Today, Nirbhaya is not just an incident or a name or a call for justice or a book, it is a human trait for all women. It is like a right for women to be able to live fearlessly and if not allowed, it is high time we take it by force. But, it is easier said than done. We are still staggering in the shackles of suppression, subjugation, shame and insecurity. Women in every strata of the Indian society feels the burden in some way or the other.
Physical violation or violence is not the only kind of blow to a women’s dignity, mental distress is much an agony for a women to overcome, survive and enjoy a happy, secure life. So many of them goes unseen, unnoticed, unheard, unexpressed, untold, uncared, untreated, unreported, unconsidered because they are tagged ‘unimportant’ and ‘womanly’. And somehow the society is also shamelessly unapologetic.
Kusum Choppra’s Nirbhaya is one such honest attempt tell us what has been untold, to show us what has been unseen, to make us believe in an unethical society where women is still an ‘unsolved question mark’. She upholds different pictures of a society where Her dignity, honour, charisma, innocence,charm and simplicity is hung at the gallows everyday in some way or the other. But it also highlights the determination and ‘Nirbhaya’ attitude of some of these brave women who turned around to fight back the ‘killing of their soul’; they were not ready to accept their fate decided by others.
Reading through the pages of the book was like listening to the stories of these brave hearts face to face. It is not just an anthology on paper, it is an emotional compilation of the untold stories of their heart. Right from elderly, Mrs. Khanna and her little secret; Maya and unfaithful husband; Madhu and ‘The Stalker’; Priyani and her accepted fate to Belliya and her exploited pain.
These are mere names given to ‘our stories’. Readers might be able to associate with many the emotions, incidents and sentiments, this book brings to light. The simple language and short stories kept me glued and interested. Female protagonists were just like any of us with a story to narrate. There is no complex plot, its like every woman’s untold chronicle. Small snippets of their emotions and how they fought, accepted, confronted, adopted and adapted situations coming their way. It is not always about how they fought back but also about how they got back to life and moved on. It i about how they tried to solve or handle the ‘question mark’ in their life. It is a beautiful piece to read and reflect upon certain trivial feelings we sometimes ignore or try to suppress. I enjoyed each and every ‘story of the woman’.
However, I felt some stories were dragged a bit more while others were crisp and short. Another thing I would have wanted as a reader was perhaps a bit more information about the characters itself- a background for both the main and accompanying characters to make the story appealing. The demeaning role of the society in few of them were brought out on a lighter note which could gave been bolder but again it is the flow of the story and the underlying message which matters which has beautifully come out. The entire book connects all the main characters with something in common- they are women in pain who have sprung back to life with a new zeal. Overall the depiction was intriguing and insightful in an Indian context. I would urge readers to grab a copy today. It is a nice read over evening coffee or on the way to the office.
It is an honest compilation of ‘those who dared’. And thanks to Rashida Poonawala of FMC for making me aware of such an interesting read. Looking forward to exciting books from the author.