The book attempts to explore the heart and mind of the modern Indian woman; who is tired of suppressing her true nature, dreams and desires (in the largely patriarchal society) and wishes to express herself and do her own thing even at the cost of appearing odd and unconventional in front of her family and society at large. The flavour of each story is different. And the author has experimented with narrative style and form. The themes in the book include: humour, pathos, love, infidelity, arranged marriage, colour bias, hope and joy. Giving it a whole new twist, the collection ends with a poem titled – ‘That woman you see,’ which is also the title of the book and gives out a brief description of the collection.
Women-centric books are flavour of the season, with March hosting International Women’s Day on 8th. Keeping aside the debate on futility of celebrating womanhood annually and not everyday, let’s just concentrate on this book. It is a themed one, an anthology of nine stories, each about a strong woman. They are symbols of love, courage, strength and everything that we overlook in a woman we see around. The protagonists of this book are not superwomen, but those entrapped in each of us. Sujata Parashar is an exceptional woman and a writer who has always presented stories that touch our hearts. This is another such attempt by her.
Each story has a different flavour, a different perspective, but all of them united into the common theme of womanhood and its celebration. Written in simple, lucid language and quite engaging plots, each of them has their own appeal. But, of course there are ones better than the others. I particularly liked a few and would mention them here.
Ganga: She Who Is Pure – The book begins with this one, and it’s a strong yet subtle story. Ganga has a past and an equally difficult present life of a call girl. Her pride and the haplessness of the male protagonist are contrast to each other and create a painful story. It is well written, though slightly distraught at places.
Gauri: She Who Is Fair – The eternal conflict between a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law is turned into a beautiful relationship that supports each other. It addresses the burning issue of being unfair to not-so-fair women.
Sheeba: A Promise – Women at workplace are often considered to take undue advantage of their gender, which isn’t true in most cases. Sheeba is a woman more capable than her male colleague who can’t stand her. The story expresses how well she bails herself out of a situation and turns it to her favour, one that she deserves. A few discrepancies in the narration, but still a well written story.
Shivangita: She Who Has Courage – This is perhaps my favourite story in the book. Lovely treatment of a complex subject done here. Children in India are very less receptive of their parents moving apart because our society doesn’t support it. Here’s a mother’s letters to her grown up son revealing a few secrets. It’s a wonderful story.
I loved these stories more than the others. The main complain about the book is evident lack of editing. There are quite a few errors and font discrepancies that are sore to the readers’ eyes. Wish the author and publisher took better care of an otherwise well crafted book.
Highly recommended for everyone, as the stories present slices of our lives. The women in the book are our own, around us and need to be written about.
My Rating: 3.5/5
About the Author:
Sujata Parashar is a novelist, poet, short story writer and social worker. Her bestselling debut novel, ‘In Pursuit of Infidelity,’ explored the man – woman relationship outside the institution of marriage from a modern woman’s perspective. The second in the series, ‘In Pursuit of Ecstasy,’ studied the youth – parent relationship in modern times and made an attempt to portray how the seeds of dissension between the two impacts society at large. The book was long listed for the Economist Crossword Book Award 2012. Her latest novel, the third in the “Pursuit” series, ‘In Pursuit of a Lesser Offence,’ was released in 2014 and explores the relevance of the institution of marriage in current times. Her first short – fiction, ‘Wake me only when the Sun is high’ (2011), and her first book of poems in the series, ‘Poetry Out and Loud’ (2012) have won awards. She is active in literary circles and contributes to literature as a member of the planning board of the Kumaon Literary Festival (KLF) and Delhi Poetry Festival (DPF).
Language: English, Genre: Fiction/Anthology/Women
Author(s): Sujata Parashar
Publisher: Alchemy Books, Year Published: 2015
Binding: Paperback, Edition: First, Pages: 120
ISBN-13: 978-9383938193 , ISBN-10: 9383938196
Reviewed for: Writersmelon