If you are looking for a quick read, this book is not for you. This is a book that makes you pause and ponder.
If you are looking for a happy book, this book is not for you. This is a book based on the realities of life. It is a story of what women in India have gone through for centuries and what they are still going through today.
While there is a main plot, that is just the trunk of the tree, the structure on which the branches hang. It is the stories of the people that Devi, the protagonist, encounters that give fullness to the book.
The author obviously feels deeply about this aspect of social life and her passion shows in her writing. Through the protagonist’s thoughts and musings she gives us a very thorough insight into the problems faced by women in India. She talks about how feminism in India has evolved differently from the feminism of the west.
Through the conversations in the book she gives solutions that can be applied at an individual level even though as a nation we may not see much change happening soon.
I liked the fact that the book did not just cover sexual exploitation of women by men, but also touched upon areas like Lesbianism and FGM. Dubois also talks about the politics that women play and the sexism and misogyny practised by women because of their blind faith in religion and rituals.
There were so many “quotable quotes” in the book and here are some that I would like to share.
“Indian women are the mass army created by patriarchy, standing staunch in defence of patriarchy.”
“If every Indian woman would take one small step towards rebellion, standing up against centuries of gender discrimination — it would become a giant leap towards a strong future for our Indian society.”
“But what we forget is the fact that a pedestal is as much a prison as any small, confined space.”
There were times when things went over my head and I had to read the paragraph a couple of times to get what the author was trying to say; places where it got a bit too technical to enjoy. But as I have said earlier this is not a book to be enjoyed. It is a book to be pondered upon. Definitely not a book to read when you are tired or at the end of a long day.
It is a book that stays with you long after you have finished reading it.