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    TMYS Review June 2020 : Women and Social Captivism

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

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    Subcategory VII :

    WOMEN AND SOCIAL CAPTIVISM

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    Title : The Sojourn 

    Category : Fiction

    Author : Kanishk Sharma 

    Author intro :  Kanishk Sharma, a student of architecture and design, is an aspiring writer and film director and considers himself a true connoisseur of literature and cinema. He lives in the in a dimension of imagination and believes dreams and nightmares are as real there as here and now. 'You should know there's power in the words you're thinking', he quotes his favorite music artist as he probably sips some tea, amidst the mountains he calls home where life is but a beautiful blessing, nothing but reality braided with fiction, utopian and unreal!

    Excerpt :

    There were pedestrians galore in the streets of Bara Bazaar in North Kolkata that day. The hubbub and cacophony that prevailed were inevitable. It was that time of the year when one could experience the incommensurable charisma of that divine smell of Durga Puja. Shoppers were ecstatic as they bounced from one shop to another, cavorting around and choosing the best and the latest trends of the season.

    Everything in the city of joy was in celebratory mode.

    Amidst all this, in front of the Satyanarayan Park Market, stood Malvika- inhaling nostalgia and gobbling up her phuchkas. Overwhelmed by the various viands that were inviting her on the streets of her hometown, Malvika pranced around, enjoying each of the sumptuous delicacies that added to the festivity and fun. From jute bags to cotton kurtis, there was hardly anything that Malvika Chatterjee did not purchase that afternoon. She wore a navy-blue sweatshirt with a pair of black jeans and white sneakers, looking at twenty-seven very much like the woman she had once claimed she would resemble. She was a Computer Engineer, who had been working at an IT firm in Bengaluru for three years now.

    Malvika was exhausted as she had loitered around the whole day after landing in Kolkata in the morning, without taking any rest. She wanted to take a nap before she could step out to experience the midnight majesty of the city during the Durga Puja. She took a taxi to her hotel in Park Street and was excited to sit in the homely four-wheelers after a long time. As the taxi trotted down the Mahatma Gandhi Road, Malvika could see her city all adorned and embellished. No sooner did she start to reminisce the Puja days in her childhood, that the taxi driver interrupted, "Kolkata looks like a bride during Puja!"

    Her face became pale and lifeless.

    "Bride". Dreadful thoughts filled her as she felt disgust running through her heart, replacing the cheerfulness that had occupied her till only a while ago.

    About six months ago, in February, she was supposed to get married to Arpan Mukherjee, a thirty-year-old Civil Engineer settled in Hyderabad. Their parents were old acquaintances and Malvika's father was quite contended that he had found the "perfect" groom for his daughter. Marinated in the sauce of orthodox flavours, Malvika's would-be in-laws were paranoid about letting their daughter-in-law work outside post her marriage. Arpan's mother was disturbed by the fact that Malvika earned more than Arpan, and she was in no position to accept that the credentials of any woman could be better and superior to her beloved son.

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

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    Title : Wounds Don’t Heal With Time

    Category : Non-fiction

    Author : Col. N. S. Malhan

    Author intro : Col. Narinder Singh Malhan was commissioned from the Indian Military Academy (IMA) Dehradun. After having served for almost four decades in Indian Army, he loves to share his experiences through his writings. In his opinion, each life is unique and is a historical document with its own identity. He strongly feels real discovery is through introspection by looking back within one’s own time. He believes that sharing personal experiences is like revisiting life's milestones with more intensity. He thoroughly enjoyed his journey in uniform.

    Excerpt : 

    I was around seven or eight years old. I heard aching cries ring dee,p with their shrill echo in my ears;  Kaki’s agony was evident. But I was too young to recognize such things at that tender age. As I grew up, it was not hard to know, connect and paint an honest picture for myself.

    She was the usual visitor to our house in the village. I had seen her meeting my mother regularly. Those meetings were generally aimed to share and get some solace from her ongoing grief and anxiety. She lived two houses next to ours. In a village, relationship hierarchy is well defined. By relation, she fitted in the definition of an aunt, or 'Kaki' in our local language. She had been married for some years. She had no issues. I could see her busy with lots of work throughout the day. She was full of energy. She was cheerful and generally happy. That was all I could make out as a child.

    The man to whom she was married was of an unstable mind. Their family had eight members, including three women including herself. Mostly, it was during the early hours of the night, when I could hear her crying in pain. This was more or less on a very regular basis. Beating her with a cane and kicking her with legs was a usual ritual for her husband. Many a time, I was an eye-witness to it. The rest of the members of the family used to be mute spectators. Rather, I used to get a feeling, as if some of them appeared to be enjoying this. None of the family members came to her rescue. As I heard, even her parents were not ready to step in. Probably, they thought that after her marriage, they had nothing to do with it. And their responsibilities no longer existed towards their daughter. Her pain and agony, I still feel as scars in my own memory. Life was a pain for this woman; abusive and insulting.

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

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    Title : Rani

    Category : fiction

    Author : Haridas Patil

    Author intro :  Passionate and dedicated towards teaching, Haridas is currently working at Sri Sathya Sai Vidyaniketan, Navasari. He constantly updates and upgrades his skills by penning down articles as well as life stories. He can be reached at  https://about.me/haridaspatil

    Excerpt :

    Rani was sitting on the threshold, her head between her legs. She thought that the whole world was against her. Her difficulty was not new to her family. They knew that every month she had her menstrual period. But this time it had come during the the festival of Navratri; an extremely sacred event for the whole community. "Rani, take this glass of water and tea. I am keeping them here." Somebody spoke.

    Rani heard the words but did not reply; she was looking at the door from where her mother in law stood and spoke to her, or rather, at her. She told Rani that she would not be allowed to touch most of the things during her menstrual period. They considered that it was a bad omen for the family to get periods, especially during the Navratri. It was a curse! Hence, they kept her away from the kitchen, temple, water pot, and the bed. They blamed her luck and tortured her mentally, at a time when she was totally blank, innocent and ignorant about it. She was not as educated as her husband, but he followed only the feelings of his family and not the rationality of her condition. Instead of taking her side, he was with family. He kept silent and pretended to know nothing. It was reported to him that it was a bad sign for society. So he kept himself far away from it.

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

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    Title : Stereotypes, Conservatism, Captivism and Obedience : Urban vis-a-vis Rural Regression

    Category : Essay

    Author : Swetha Amit

    Author intro : A journalist by profession, Swetha Amit has a double master’s degree in Psychology and is currently pursuing Creative Writing at Stanford University. As an avid reader, she has interviewed several best-selling authors around the world across  varied genres. As a profilic writer, she has written a few articles for Tell me your Story. She is also coming up with a book which is a memoir about her triathlon journey. Swetha is also a runner and a triathlete. She has participated in numerous running and triathlon events both in India as well as in the United States. She has completed 2 Ironman 70.3 races and several Olympic distance triathlons in USA. She has also been an even ambassador for a running event in India and for the Oakland triathlon in 2019. She also enjoys penning down her experiences and musings on her blog. She currently resides in California with her husband and daughter.

    Abstract : While the world is showcasing modernization in several aspects, there are areas where the traditional mindset bites on. Women who choose to pursue career over marriage are still frowned upon. Their families expect them to choose domesticity over individuality. Also, in many urban and rural corners, women are put through regressive practices, denying them basic emotional and social respect. Their wings are clipped even before they can fly. The stories Sojourn by Kanishk Sharma, Rani by Haridas Patil and Wounds Don't Heal with Time by Col. Narinder Singh Malhan are fine examples of how modern women are pressurized by families into succumbing to undeserving demands for marriage; leaving before them very limited options. Demand for feminine obedience establishes the natural right of patriarchy!

    Excerpt :

    Rani by Haridas Patil is the story about a woman who gets her menstrual period during the auspicious festival of Navaratri.  Since it is considered as a bad omen to get  periods around the festive time, Rani is constantly hounded and insulted by her in laws. Her husband’s lack of support does not make things any easier. Tired of the hostility meted out to her, Rani begins to feel lonely and succumbs to depression. She begins to blame herself for bringing shame to her parents. 

    When she is assigned the task of delivering tiffin to the farm house, she passes by the village temple. Hesitating to enter the religious premises due to her current state, she places herself on its footsteps and begins to weep. A teacher named Leela finds her and attempts to comfort her. She is shocked on hearing the cruel taunts inflicted upon Rani. Enraged by Rani’s conduct, the village folks want to take up the issue with the Panchayat. Meanwhile a group of teachers, led by Leela, instigate every woman in the village to refrain from playing Garba until Rani gets her respect. Worried about the women’s’ stance, the villagers call upon a saint who lives in the foothills. His words of wisdom and logic about drawing parallels to the worship of a Goddess and respect towards women, makes the villagers realize their folly.  Peace is restored when Rani’s family and villagers apologize to both the saint as well as Rani. The Navratri celebrations resume once again.

    While the story is set in rural India, the issue addressed in the story is a common one that transcends geographical barriers. The attitude towards this menstrual problem appears to be a common phenomenon in every household- ranging from villages, to small towns and elite households. It may be surprising to note that even the most educated households let superstitions defy logic. Cultural norms and religious taboos on menstruation are often compounded by traditional associations with evil spirits, shame and embarrassment surrounding sexual reproduction.

    During this monthly cycle, women are confined to one corner as they are considered impure. They are prohibited from entering kitchens and touching cupboards.  Entering places of worship is considered a grave sin. While the world is progressing in technology and other aspects, the mindset towards this menstrual cycle seems to be still stuck in the 19th century. This is appalling and disheartening. In fact, films like ‘Padman’ have been made as an attempt to address and alter these staunch beliefs towards this particular issue. Some of the instances portrayed in the film are similar to the conditions faced by Rani in the story.

    The cruel taunts emphasized in Rani’s story are another problem that are bound to resonate with women worldwide. The plight of Rani evokes anger and sympathy as it mirrors reality. The role of the unsupportive husband is also highlighted here.  This lack of support leads to frustration among women. It further fuels those bouts of loneliness and feelings of melancholy. Rani is shown to exhibit feelings of misery and ultimately ends up blaming herself.  Women are found to be extremely vulnerable around the time of their menstrual cycle, given the inevitable hormonal changes. Unfortunately, the husband’s family fails to understand the importance of exhibiting sensitivity during this time.

    (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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