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    TMYS Review June 2020 : Feminine Strength and Gender Sketch

    GENDER IDENTITIES AND SOCIAL REALITIES : ESSAYS AND STORIES ON INDIAN WOMEN

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    About TMYS Review June 2020 : https://www.tellmeyourstory.biz/tmysreview

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    Subcategory IX :

    FEMININE STRENGTH AND GENDER SKETCH

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    Title : The Invincible

    Category : fiction

    Author : Raj K. Mitra

    Author intro : Raj started his career as a journalist with The Asian Age, worked as Commodities Reporter for TV18 Group (Newswire18) and Credit Suisse as Head of Investment Publishing (India). He currently works with AICL Communications, a multi-stakeholder communications consultancy. He co-authored a best-selling book in Bengali ,titled Swapner Feriwala (2014; Dey Publications) with journalist Sujit Roy. The book is an analytical biography of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He also co-produced a web original movie in Bengali titled, Onek Diner Pore, in 2018 for Zee5.

    Excerpt :

    My world keeps falling apart, time and again!

    I was born with a golden spoon in my mouth, that turned wooden within five years. But did not falter from my course. She was always there with me. If I was broken, or damaged I always, managed to dust myself off. I carried on; because she was always there, watching from behind! It wasn't a privileged childhood. But it wasn't a deprived one either. The small house at the dingy by-lane in North Kolkata seemed so spacious. Love could indeed create magic!

    The posh English-medium school was no longer affordable. But the Hindi-medium school was quite up to the standards. Then, her presence at home began to dwindle. But it didn't matter much! She would always be back before dinner anyway. And Life under the care of grandparents, with limited discipline, was no less wonderful. If I needed something, I would ask my Grandpa. And he would happily oblige. I didn't know how he managed, with only his meagre government pension.

    One day we went to attend a house-warming ceremony somewhere in South Calcutta. Later that night after dinner, as I walked  the streets holding my Grandma's hand, waiting for a cab to take us home, I realized she wasn’t behind us. When the cab arrived and I prepared to board, I turned back again.

    "Isn't Mamoni coming with us?"

    "No", she replied.

    In fact, she would never come home again. At least not in the same way.

    Love is kind but love is cruel as well. I wasn't angry. I was hurt; I was a bit broken; I let my sadness breathe. And then when it was empty, I moved on. She visited us often with her husband, my stepfather. I didn't like him. He didn't like me, either. We barely tolerated each other's presence. Soon, those visits too began to dwindle. I stayed a few times at her husband's place; bit I  was never at ease there. I would find excuses to cut short the visits and return to my grandparents' small house.

    (Read more here : https://www.amazon.in/dp/B08BZXYH4X )

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    Title : In The End... Is Her Beginning!

    Category : nonfiction

    Author : Faridoon Shahryar ‌

    Author intro : Faridoon Shahryar is a journalist heading the broadband division of popular entertainment portal, ‘Bollywood Hungama’. Faridoon 's celebrity chat show 'Talking Films' is widely appreciated for imparting credible infotainment. Faridoon is an Indian English Poet who has been published in magazines in India as well as abroad.

    Excerpt :

    Aunty was crying as she entered our house. We hurriedly finished our breakfast to give her an audience. She had been asked by her eldest son to leave his house. The never-ending trials and tribulations of the sixty-something widow, who also was a breast cancer patient, filled us with an acute sense of helplessness. There was a time when she had been the proud mother of five sons and a daughter, and a doting husband. But the latter’s untimely demise led to catastrophic times and the situation had now gone from bad to worse.

    A one-bedroom hall kitchen apartment in far-flung Mira Road, a suburb of Mumbai, was the subject of intense contention. As per the law, Aunty owned fifty percent of the flat and the remaining fifty percent had to be equally divided amongst the six children. She was eligible for an equal portion from the balance fifty percent. The children wanted Aunty to part with her complete share in one form or the othe, especially  if she expected them to take care of her in old age. She wasn't getting any monetary help from them either. To add insult to injury, the wretched daughter-in-laws tormented and tortured her both verbally as well as physically. When aunty had threatened to complain, a fake police complaint had been lodged against her for alleged physical assault.

    "I can't stay there," Aunty told my wife Sadiya. She cried inconsolably as Aashi, my daughter offered her water and something to eat. There was a time when Aunty had enjoyed the perks of life, courtesy of her loving husband who had had a reasonably flourishing business in Mahim. She wore good clothes, travelled in comfort, and mutton was regularly cooked in her house. In a middle-class Muslim household, mutton is considered a sign of affluence. She was an extremely honest woman whom we entrusted with our house keys whenever we travelled out of the city. When Aashi was born, Aunty had babysat her for two whole years as me and Saadiya both had a job. That was when we came in close contact with Aunty. Her husband had died by then and she needed money. The sons were not the devils they later became, and the daughter was a loving young girl, still unmarried.

    Life of a widow isn't easy, especially when you're uneducated and are dependent on others. Islam gives high status to women in the scheme of things, but the clergy and the orthodox mindsets relegate them to become inferior beings.

    (Read more here : https://www.amazon.in/dp/B08BZXYH4X )

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    Title : Thermos Flask

    Category : nonfiction

    Author : Dr. Arunabha Sengupta               

    Author intro : Dr. Arunabha Sengupta has thirty years of professional experience as a cancer surgeon; now works as a senior consultant at Apollo Hospital, Kolkata. He has participated in and organized many state level and national academic conferences. He is also the President of Oncological Society of Bengal and Secretary of Indian Cancer Society, Kolkata Chapter. He is also an Advisor to the Rotary International District 3291 committee on Cancer Awareness. He has published many articles on Cancer and ethical issues of medicine in leading national English dailies and a fiction "I Won't Give You A Leg Up Mr. Death" which chronicles the uncommon journey of a cancer patient. Dr. Sengupta lives in Kolkata with his family.

    Excerpt :

    That year I was preparing for my postgraduate examination after completion of the stipendiary training in medical college. Postgraduate trainees in Calcutta, those days, did not get any salary; so, I'd taken up a job as  residential medical officer in an upcoming cancer hospital on the outskirts of Calcutta.  The job fitted the bill well for a temporary one; not extravagantly remunerating, but with a quarter to stay in and with food from the hospital kitchen, it was cushy enough to allow me the time and solitude to study and to attend special classes when a local practitioner kept watch.  

    The hospital was yet to take its full shape and consisted of only two wards - male and female, with forty odd beds between them. It was a nice little country-house type building with a thatched ceiling that supported a sloped metal roof.  Other buildings to house the regular departments were coming up; scattered around a big pond in the centre of an astonishingly vast compound that merged with the surrounding open lands on three sides. A metal road skirted the front side through which a public bus shuttled once every hour, from morning to evening. 

    It was winter when I took up my duties there. The days were all bright and sunny and many of the patients would come out of the wards to sit around the pond and bask in the faint sun of winter.  The inmates were almost all from far off places. Patients who did not have a residence in Calcutta and the relatives visiting them would usually stay the whole day. Together they made quite a gathering, lazing in the compound. The hospital staff, especially the elderly manager who did not have much work to do, often joined them for small talk but never dithered from doling out serious medical advice. Their experience, they thought, was an adequate compensation for their lack of medical training.

    (Read more here : https://www.amazon.in/dp/B08BZXYH4X )

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    Title : Gender Portrayal and Traditional Stereotypes in the Social Identity of Women

    Category : Essay

    Author : Nirja Vasavada (by Invitation)

    Author intro : Nirja Vasavada (Ph.D.) is a passionate educator based in Ahmedabad. She has more than 12 years of experience in teaching English and Communication at Faculty of Business Administration, GLS University, Ahmedabad. She has also taught Indian Literature in English at the Post Graduate level in St. Xavier’s College, Ahmedabad and School of Liberal Studies, PDPU, Ahmedabad. She has done her Ph.D. from KSKV Kachchh University, Bhuj. In her thesis titled Sexual Politics Souffle: Non-normativity in Mahesh Dattani’s Plays she has evaluated all the published plays of Mahesh Dattani. She heads the Curriculum Board of English and Communication at GLS University, and is a Member Secretary of Women’s Development Cell, GLS University. She is also a member of the editorial team of GLS Voice, the monthly newspaper of GLS University. Her areas of interest are Gender Studies, Queer Theory and Communication Studies.

    Abstract : The term feminism has been used and misused widely, to the extent that people also refrain from using the term out of fear of being misunderstood by larger sections of society. This essay starts with Menon’s exploration of the term, attempts to address a few points that the essay discusses in the context of three stories – Thermos Flask by Dr. Arunabha Sengupta, The Invincible by Raj K. Mitra and In the End…Is her Beginning by Faridoon Shahryar. The essay covers the discourse on gendered identities within a patriarchal structure, and points out that the element of gender stereotypes becomes a common thread in all the three stories. The essay also compares the narrative style and its impact on the creation of the identities of the protagonists’ characters.

    Excerpt :

    The term feminism has been used and misused widely, to the extent that people also refrain from using the term out of fear of being misunderstood by larger sections of society. This essay starts with Menon’s exploration of the term, attempts to address a few points that the essay overall discusses in the context of the three stories – Thermos Flask, The Invincible and In the End…Is her Beginning.

    The essay covers the discourse on gendered identities within a patriarchal structure, and points out that the element of gender stereotypes becomes a common thread in all the three stories.

    Thermos Flask by Dr. Arunabha Sengupta is a narrative set in Calcutta, by a post-graduate medical student working in a cancer hospital in Calcutta. The narrator shares two of his experiences with the patients, along with the attendants of the patients in the hospital, which served more like a hospice.

    The first experience revolves around an elderly patient who had been in the hospital for some ‘unexplained ailment’ and it had seemed that she was going to spend the rest of her life in the hospice. Once a freedom fighter, the woman struggled for her freedom from the hospital as well. At the same time, her behaviour also showed the conflict between the keenness to get discharged and some unknown fear of the world outside the hospice, which made her come up with a new symptom to delay her discharge. Though the reason of her staying in the hospital is ambiguous to the narrator, it seems that the hospital provided a shelter, if not home, to this unmarried  woman.

    The second experience focuses on the narrator’s interactions with another woman at the hospital, an attendant to her brother, a cancer patient. She later gets admitted as a patient herself. While the narrator’s interaction with the freedom fighter was more of a ‘doctor-patient’, with a touch of sympathy involved; his interaction with this woman, who is in her fifties; “unusually smart and always elegantly dressed”; is more on the cordial side. She is not his patient, and they usually got to spend time at the bus stop where the narrator would have tea while she would wait for her bus. On one of such evenings, she asks the narrator if women can grow lung cancer like men. “Yes, from passive smoking… say if a woman’s male companion smokes a lot in her presence,” replied the narrator. He, who had just started their career as a doctor, and was not really aware how medical opinions can be taken as the final word by common people, had shared his knowledge about how smoking causes lung cancer, and how difficult it was to treat.

    (Read more here : https://www.amazon.in/dp/B08BZXYH4X )

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    You can also read all the stories referred by the three authors above, here : https://www.amazon.in/dp/B085TBK2ZM/

    Go back to TMYS review : https://www.tellmeyourstory.biz/tmys-review

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