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She Said : Breaking The Sexual Harrasment Story That Helped Ignite A Movement

We all have an opinion about the #metoo movement. While some of us have lauded it, some of us have turned skeptical over it. And in this past year, I’ve seen how the Malayalam film industry just can’t stop making crude, unsavoury and tone-deaf jokes around it. However that may be, this book by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, the two New York Times reporters who broke the story on Harvey Weinstein, is a textbook study on investigative journalism. It’s about how to handle a sensitive story that can potentially explode in your face leaving you grasping at anything to prove … Continue reading She Said : Breaking The Sexual Harrasment Story That Helped Ignite A Movement

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The Anukrti Upadhyay Interview : ‘I am a proud feminist because feminists before me made a space for me and others like me’

‘Fierce, flawed and fanatic in her love,’ Bhaunri is a story that comfortably slides between a fable and a folk-lore. Absorbing the beauty and the flavour of Rajasthan, it also delves into the mysterious darkness. Read on as the writer talks about the story of the land and the lass. Continue reading The Anukrti Upadhyay Interview : ‘I am a proud feminist because feminists before me made a space for me and others like me’

Dee-tangled : Women, Dreaming

What are women’s dreams made of? A story that questions male entitlement, and systemic gender oppression that affects rural Muslim women.

Indian literature has been my jam since a few years. And being open to Indian writers, their stories and their styles of storytelling has been a very enriching journey that I intend to keep going in the next year. And this year has been especially good to me as I’ve been able to broaden my horizons. An ode to exploring new writers, and the stories of their lands is this new gem I came across. (Can’t thank Vivek Tejuja and Penguin India enough for sending a copy my way.)

Women, Dreaming by Salma

The first I came across this book I was absolutely unaware of Tamil poet-writer-activist Salma. What instantly drew me to the book was that Meena Kandasamy was the translator, and her works I have loved in the past. When I Hit you is one of her works that has stayed with me even years after I read it. But honestly it didn’t take me too long before I read up about Salma. Her life, I realised is indeed stranger than fiction!

A Life Worthy of Literature

Born in 1968, into an orthodox Muslim family, as Rajathi Rokkiah aka Salma (nom de plume) often writes about themes that she has experienced or closely witnessed herself. Denied education at 13, Rajathi was married off at 19. However, none was her hardships would deter her from expressing herself through her writing.

Fearless, sharp and acrid, Salma’s writing has fetched her flowers and brickbats in equal measure. Her own life fighting for her rights and everything that she felt right has shaped her writing, her politics and her ideologies. And today, Rajathi Salma is revered poet, respected activist and politician and now a very well known writer. Her earlier works have been translated to many European languages, including English, German, Spanish, and even Indian languages like Marathi, Malayalam, etc.

Rajathi Salma already has already built herself a reputation in European literary circles, and that I hadn’t heard of her, before reading this novel of hers, is mine own fault.

Women, Dreaming is the translation of her Tamil novel Manaamiyangal . Salma has been vocal about her writing being political. And this novel is a definitely political. Through the lives of Parveen, Mehar, Sajida, Asiya and Subaida we are taken into the internal conflicts of rural Muslim women in Tamil Nadu. We come to see how blind religious faith binds women onto its tentacles. And that patriarchy doesn’t always need oppressive men, but sometimes all it needs is for the complacent silence of women.

She thought of the time she had spent like a dog, in Hasan’s house. Had he ever let her do anything she liked? She could not remember a single instance where she had done something that he would have disapproved of. In a state of constant fear, she had developed a weakness of the bladder.

Page 76, Women, Dreaming

The Un-fabulous Lives of Rural Muslim Wives

Will women not have some wishes,beliefs, and thoughts of their own – or should their minds and hearts not exist at all? Why was he so stubborn in his thinking?

Women, Dreaming takes us into the heart of a tiny village in Tamil Nadu that is in the throes of religious orthodoxy where fear and honour rule the lives of men and women. Where a man’s honour is in the subserviant compliance of the womenfolk in his family. Where the life of a women, without a man to govern her, is not worth living. Where feminist buzzwords words like ‘choice’, ‘consent’ and ‘self respect’ have lost their way. With utmost dexterity and prudence Salma walks us into the midst of these women, sharing their deepest desires and darkest fears, their protests and rebellions, both big and small.

This is the story of three generations of women. Subaida, Asiya and Amina who have been beaten down by their circumstances and hence have grown accustomed to an oppression that is far beyond their scope of redemption. Parveen and Mehar who still have a spark of fight left in them. Sajida who is fighting for a future that she is consistently being told is beyond her scope of dreaming.

But this isn’t just about the women. This is also the story of men like Hasan and Rahim who were raised on lessons of male entitlement and that ‘men rule because women have to serve.’ This story is a reflection of a society that sows the seed of discontentment in all genders because of the stereotypes that each are forced to conform.

If you loved Women, Dreaming…

  • When I Hit You by Meena Kandasamy
  • Princess’ Story by Jean Sasson
  • Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  • Salt Houses by Hala Alyan
  • Persepolis by Satrapi
Continue reading “Dee-tangled : Women, Dreaming”

My Picks for #NonFictionNovember

Although an ardent advocate of non-fiction, I did not know of #nonfictionnovember until 2020. (It was about time that some good came out of this year!) #NonfictionNovember is a reading initiative to read a Nonfiction book in the month of November that was started by Olive from @abookolive. Olive along with an extended team will host the initiative across social media platforms. More details on that here. While the original initiate recommends us to read only one non-fiction in November, I myself love non-fiction quite a lot and have in the past really enjoyed reading it quite extensively. So, in … Continue reading My Picks for #NonFictionNovember

84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

“If you happen to pass by 84, Charing Cross Road, kiss it for me. I owe it so much.“ Helene Hanff, 84 Charing Cross Road This book, that takes you not more than an hour or so to read, came to me through my Book Club in Kochi when we decided to read this for the month of October this year. I read it ad have been putting off writing about it for so long, yes. 84 Charing Cross Road is an epistolary memoir of a beautiful friendship between Helene Hanff, an antiquarian English literature enthusiast, and Frank Doel, who … Continue reading 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

Julie & Julia and me…

What could be the dangers of blogging? Self indulgence-Narc-ism to be precise Over sharing (in the words of Julie Powell) Susceptibility to judgement Effects on life..both personal & profession. (imagine what it could do to your love life!) Given all that, I’m willing to risk it & start this blog. And what better way to do it than on this movie Julie & Julia (am not going into the synopsis..so if you would like that just click on the title)! The way the movie entwines the life of two women out of the will of one of them is spectacular. The story is about … Continue reading Julie & Julia and me…

About ‘Marley & me’

My uncle had a dog. It was white in colour, with grey ferocious eyes, viciously sharp tooth & claws. It had attacked almost every family member who had ever visited them and/or played with it. So I do neither played with it, nor liked it! I’m also afraid of street dogs. No, not because they are dirty or untamed, but because they are dogs.The only dog I can stand is a pug. (Yes, the ol’ Hutch dog) But that too when it doesn’t come near me! So note to whoever reads this: I DO NOT LIKE DOGS BECAUSE I’M TOO SCARED … Continue reading About ‘Marley & me’

Thanks for the Memories by Cecelia Ahern

My love for books, unlike my love for words, is not a selfless one. I invest time in a book hoping to get something in return. I expect a book to keep me good company; it can make me happy, sad or happy-sad, it can make me contemplate or melancholic, it can even make me angry. That’s my deal with books. So if a couple of chapters into the book, if it doesn’t engage me I break up with it. And then I might never go back to the book or even the author, for that matter. Such has been … Continue reading Thanks for the Memories by Cecelia Ahern

What’s in a suicide note.

Nothing makes more sense than a suicide note. Such correctness, such lack of uncertainties, such a disciplined coldness-where would you find all that other than in a suicide note? It is an art you perfect only when you have decided to bid a final goodbye. That, if you ask me, is it’s only shortcoming. These are Anees Salim’s words in his novel The Blind Lady’s Descendants that won him the Kendra Sahithya Academy Award this year. I was reminded of these words when the news of the death of VG Siddhartha hit social media. However, I am yet to read … Continue reading What’s in a suicide note.