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This November Women’s Web, with JustBooks, is running Book Talk, a writing theme where you get to write (read) about books that inspire us.
For November, our writing cue was: “Ask the books that I read why I changed. Ask the authors dead and alive who communicated with me and gave me the courage to be myself.” – from My Story by Kamala Das. Our third winning entry is by Deepa Arun.
An unusual dialogue between a mother, a daughter and the books that have made the latter’s world.
Mother: What have you done to yourself? Why did you take this brave plunge?
Daughter: I don’t know. I loved him with truth and conviction. I wanted to be with him.
Mother: You should have waited till your marriage. What will you tell your father and relatives? Your nosy aunt has got a whiff of your pregnancy. She said to me, “She has made her own bed. Let her lie on it.” I, being your mother, cannot leave you at the crossroads. I gave you freedom. I backed you to pursue further studies in Dramatics in Delhi. I thought you were sensible. He, being a commando, lost his life in the commando operations. My poor girl,now look at yourself! You can neither mourn whole-heartedlyfor the loss of your love nor celebrate the life growing within you. You are an unwed mother of an unborn baby.
Daughter: Mother, it is true that I moved fast in making decisions. He was planning to come home so that we could tell you both of our love. We had dreamed of a life of togetherness. But life played a cruel joke on us. I lost him, though I have a tiny life of his and mine, within me. I am going to bring up our child in this world.
Mother: Life is a reality, not a scene from your play. The scripts, thoughts and books you indulge in are music to the five senses. That is the world of books. The real world, however, is full of gossip and hypocrisy. How will you answer all the cruel questions thrown at you by the so-called righteous society? They will humiliate you, call you different names and throw us out of the community. These taunts will affect your old father’s health.
Daughter: Mother, it is true that my thoughts are influenced by the books I read. My freethinking will destabilize the societal foundation. My love for him was true. We were going to be married when the brutal bolt of reality struck us. I lost him, but my womb has become a home for our love. Everything would have been fine, if he was alive and married me. My unborn baby would have got the love of both its parents.
Mother: Have you thought about the unborn baby’s future? This society is patriarchal. Father’s name is important in all aspects of life.
Daughter: Mother, I am sure that options will be given to me ranging from abortion, adoption to marrying another man. My principles are against abortion. I cannot bear a surgical instrument going into my body to destroy the life within me. I do not want give away my baby to adoption after sheltering it for nine months, sharing my food, giving it space in my body and enduring the pain of labour. I am of marriageable age, but just togive my baby a father’s name, I cannot cheat my conscience and marry another man. Moreover, there is always the question of how another man would treat me. Such a life would be a façadewhere I will go insane.
Mother: I know you have an inclination towards free thoughts. It is due to the monologues you have with those books. The writing in the books is picture perfect. Such scenarios cannot fit into the entrenched rules of this society. Wake up my child! Come out of your story mode and face the reality.
Daughter:No one in this society knows the reality. All are following an imaginary set of commands. My thoughts could be the outcome of the books I read, the interaction of my thoughts with that of the writer’s. Presently, there is a storm in my life. I need to face it. I know mother, it is hard to live differently in this society. I have written a lot of plays on strong feminine characters. Many of my plays questioned the set commandments. The time has come for me to enact my role. Let me mourn the loss of my love and embrace the new life within me. Let me bring my child in this world with love and security, rather than grief and insecurity. Let me hold the reins of my life. Mother, you are correct. Books have been an integral part of my life. I have related my feelings, my situations with many a strong protagonist from the books. It all depends on one’s faith. I have faith in the books I read, the scripts I wrote. Let me cling on to it. Let me bring up my child sans hypocrisy and charade.
She underlined Kamala Das’ words, “Ask the books that I read why I changed. Ask the authors who gave me courage to be myself.”
Deepa 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!
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. Offer until November 30th only!
Cover image via Shutterstock
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