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The women in Stars from the Borderless Sea have a spine of steel, determination, and an insane urge to keep moving despite whatever life throws at them.
Stars from the Borderless Sea, a debut novel by Dr. Shalini Mullick is a collection of three separate stories, Sayonee, Humsafar, and Humraaz.
The three women protagonists in each story are well-settled, independent, and strong women. The book is a soulful portrayal of love, life, and the search for happiness.
The book starts with a quote from Rumi, which happens to be one of my favourites: Out beyond the ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
This is the story of Geetika and Shekhar, college-mates from different economic strata, who fall in love. Like a gently blossoming flower, this story unfolds over a series of letters (from Shekhar to Geetika). We are a part of Geetika’s journey from riches to rags to riches, and her unerring faith in their love.
Look out for the scene when she meets Shekhar at his house. It is sublime, soaked in love. “And then, she stepped out into the night, taking the soft embers of the fireplace, the shimmering moonlight and their silence with her.”
The second story revolves around Rachna, Rajat, and Venkat. Rachna, a paediatrician married to Rajat, an engineer, is happy and content with her married life. Her life is her children, her husband, and the hospital she is setting up.
An invitation from the past sets off certain events in her life, and she harks back to the incidents that took place when she was a student, when she tied the knot, and later on. Here, we see Rajat examining his emotions, his choices, his actions, and their domino effect.
This story can be summed up by the love, understanding, and misunderstandings between a couple and the personal rituals that form a bedrock in their marriage. Ice cream makes a cameo appearance in this story, and it keeps you hooked.
The last part of the magnificent book and my personal favourite, Humraaz or confidante is Mahima’s journey.
Mahima, hailing from a Marwari family settled in Kolkatta, moves to New Delhi after her marriage to Pawan. Seeking independence and a few hours for herself, she is seeking a job in the already-crowded Delhi workforce. After landing a job, she meets her boss, Sanjay. The rest of the story examines her relationship with him over the ups and downs in her life.
Mahima, in my inexpert opinion, was the most complex character. A protagonist that I resonated the most with – a young mother who against the odds, rises to the top, and finds love and companionship in the most unexpected place.
Shalini Mullick has the ability to dig deep into the characters and present them as normal yet flawed humans – ones that make mistakes, ones that live life against all odds, and ones that find love in their quest. And they will take it in any way. The women have a spine of steel, determination, and an insane urge to keep moving despite whatever life throws at them. The author weaves her magic while taking us on a journey of her lead women, making us cheer for them from the stands.
When I finished the book, I exited my Kindle app and placed my phone down. I closed my eyes and let the book’s waves wash over me. A lot of feelings, thoughts arose in my mind and the invariable comparison to one’s life. What would I have done in similar situations? What would I have done if I was Geetika, Rachna, or Mahima? Can I be as brave as them? The afterglow of the book still stays with me and I find myself, often thinking of those women.
In conclusion, Stars From The Borderless Sea is a soul-stirring book, and I would urge you to pick it up.
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Image source: Shalini Mullick and book cover Amazon
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Shows like Indian Matchmaking only further the argument that women must adhere to social norms without being allowed to follow their hearts.
When Netflix announced that Indian Matchmaking (2020-present) would be renewed for a second season, many of us hoped for the makers of the show to take all the criticism they faced seriously. That is definitely not the case because the show still continues to celebrate regressive patriarchal values.
Here are a few of the gendered notions that the show propagates.
A mediocre man can give himself a 9.5/10 and call himself ‘the world’s most eligible bachelor’, but an independent and successful woman must be happy with receiving just 60-70% of what she feels she deserves.
As long as teachers are competent in their job, and adhere to the workplace code of conduct, how does it matter what they do in their personal lives?
A 30 year old Associate Professor at a well-known University, according to an FIR filed by her, was forced to resign because the father of one of her students complained that he found his son looking at photographs of her, which according to him were “objectionable” and “bordering on nudity”.
There are two aspects to this case, which are equally disturbing, and which together make me question where we are heading as a society.
When the father of an 18 year old finds his son looking at photographs of a lady in a swimsuit, he can do many things. What this parent allegedly did was to dash off a letter to the University which states: