To be very honest, I was not to keen about reviewing this book.Reading, absolutely keen upon, but reviewing, not so much. Because it is not very often, and in my case, never happened that the author is also a very good friend. And I wasn’t very sure how I would be able to express my honest opinions about something that was my friend’s baby.
And I still have no idea what made me go ahead and pick it up anyway, knowing very well that in 7 days from that day I would have to read the book, and also go ahead and write the review. And of course, I promised myself that I would not be biased and would go ahead and say what I felt unabashedly.
But guess what? Sagarika Chakraborty ensured that I had to face no dilemma. For me, it was a winner from the word go. And I am actually surprised that I had expected anything less from this person, whose writing I have always admired.
The book deals with the oft spoken and written about theme of womanhood (as the blurb states). I wondered why it didn’t say ‘gender bias’ or ‘inequality’, and instead used the blanket term ‘womanhood’. I had to read all the 22 stories to understand that. And I guess that’s what makes this different from other feminism based titles I have read.
Yes, of course there are stories dealing with the more prevalent topics that we hear of when it comes to women. Female foeticide, Rape, trafficking, widowhood, there are stories dealing with all of this. But what stands out in my opinion, are the stories which deal with being a woman in general, not necessarily oppressed or down-trodden. The ones which do not just remind of cases you’ve heard in the news or read in the papers, but of someone closer, even yourself. Where there wasn’t any injustice doled out necessarily, but there were choices to be made, dilemmas faced, judgments passed by outsiders, and comments made by those who had no idea of the facts or the person. The independent, educated women of today, who in principle are treated as equals, but still have their own share of stories. My personal favorite was ‘Finding an ideal mother for my Unborn Child’. Blame it on my current role as a new mom, but I could relate to each sentiment as I read it. And I doubt if there is any other story out there which actually deals with a topic seemingly so simple and personal, but extremely important to every woman who is a mother.
The words are strong at times, making you cringe, but it serves the purpose of showcasing facts the way they are. The language is easy to follow and poetic, and even someone who is not so much of a book enthusiast would be able to read through it comfortably. This I think is a feat. Because though the topics dealt with are heavy, the writing never is.
What would have made this work even better? Perhaps concentrating more on the hidden biases which escape our sight most of the time, instead of the blatant injustice, about which a lot is spoken about. I am not undermining their relevance, but the stories which dealt with the former issues somehow left a deeper impact on me. But this is a strictly personal opinion.
Would I recommend it? Of course. And the fact that I am able to say this with no guilt of any bias whatsoever makes me one happy person!