How Did You Manage It, Miss Havisham?

This October Women’s Web, with JustBooks, is running Book Talk, a writing theme where you get to write (read) about books that inspire you. Our third winning entry is unusual, quirky and delightful as ever!

This October Women’s Web, with JustBooks, is running Book Talk, a writing theme where you get to write (read) about books that inspire you. Our third winning entry is unusual, quirky and delightful as ever!

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In October, we asked you to write on My Favourite Fictional Female Character: Women Who Rock! Today, we publish the third winning entry by Rubina Ramesh.

Love her, love her, love her! If she favours you, love her. If she wounds you, love her. If she tears your heart to pieces—and as it gets older and stronger, it will tear deeper—love her, love her, love her!”

The passionate proclamations from Miss. Havisham when read by Sister Mary Jude, my English teacher, one dreary afternoon, triggered an image of a selfish yet powerful woman in the mind of a 14-year-old.  Hormones haywire with the knowledge that the opposite sex is the forbidden fruit within the walls of a convent, little lassie me decided that she liked the enigmatic Miss Havisham of Great Expectations fame.  Don’t judge me, Sister Mary Jude had a soulful voice.

After the Wicked Witch of the West, Miss Havisham’s eccentric behavior makes her an unforgettable character. One can forget Estella for her cold heart, for she was nothing but a puppet in the hands of Miss. Havisham as she learnt, from her infancy, to break all hearts.

But more than Miss. Havisham’s cold heart it was her bridal gown and the cobwebs that are imprinted in my inward eye.  To incarcerate is fine but to live in a garbage bin even though it is the famous Satis House, cannot be a dream come true.  The pictures depicted a cake in the room too. A cake? Really? Even if it was kept in the refrigerator , it does have a life span much shorter than a human life?

So clad in just one wedding gown throughout her life; and feet tucked in one shoe, surrounded by her wedding breakfast and cake, Miss Havisham occupied a space in my mind for a long time.

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What bothered me the most about her was (besides her lack of hygiene and her immunity to disease. I swear this is a miracle) was how can a person could be so cold and destructive? She embedded all her hatred in the little mind of Estella and gave Pip the same pain that she herself had once suffered – yet throughout the novel, she managed to create different emotions in a reader’s mind. From surprise to shock. From outrage to sympathy. So many hues in a character makes one wonder about the reality of the author’s penmanship. Was she created just to shock the readers by Charles Dickens? Was practicality never taken into consideration?

Sister Mary Jude started hating me, I suppose, for I badgered her day and night with my incessant questions in the class. The pace of the chapter progression slowed down as Sister Mary Jude trudged her way through my curiosity. Sometimes she gave me a pep talk on how a mind worked and sometimes a curt “it’s not real.”

But of course nobody ever told me how a lady can stay wearing one gown, one shoe (no, not in a pair) and have the cake for so many years. However, one thing did hurt my young mind that year.

The report card that was sent home had a remark for my parents:

“Your daughter needs to be told that she must keep quiet and pay attention in the class. Her non-stop questioning attitude or should we say cross-questioning attitude has caused not only delay but led to omitting a major portion of Great Expectations from being taught in the class.”


Sister Mary Jude.

My heart was hurt. How much more attention was I supposed to pay? Maybe I should write down my questions and give it to her, so that she understands what I’m trying to ask her? Do you think I should have done that?

The prize

Rubina wins a Rs.500 voucher for this entry, from JustBooks, India’s First & Largest Community Library Chain. 

JustBooks gives you (and your entire family, from toddlers to teens, dabblers to bookworms), a wide selection of 9 lakh books on an affordable membership plan! You can read unlimited books and at your leisure with no late fee. Don’t forget to check out their excellent reading list for women, and other book recommendations!

JustBooks stocks books in 8 regional languages and offers door delivery services in 36 cities including Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad.

Here is a JustBooks special offer just for Women’s Web readers! Use coupon code JBWWD250 to redeem Rs.250 on JustBooks membership plans when you signup.

Image via API.


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