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Archive for October, 2018

When Women Speak Up‘ is a collection of nineteen stories, all of them written by women writers. All the stories feature women who decide to speak up – sometimes by words and sometimes by actions. There are different kinds of women featured in the stories – some of them are young girls, some of them are working professionals, some of them are homemakers, some of them are women with grown up children, some of them are single, some of them are married, some of them are separated / divorced from their partners. They all face different kinds of challenges in their lives and each of them responds to her challenge in her own unique way.

Here is a brief description of some of the stories to give you a flavour of the variety of themes covered in the book.

The Girl with the Sealed Vagina by Vartika Sharma Lekhak – A mysterious girl makes a sudden appearance in a notorious town. She comes and sits under the tree at the railway station and munches pakoras in a relaxed way. She is there everyday. People in the town are surprised, because it is an unsafe place, and women don’t come and sit alone in public places like this. One day, bad guys come in a car, and force this girl inside the car and take her somewhere. Onlookers just watch this scene without intervening. From the next day, strange things, magical things start happening at the town. You have read the story to find out what.

An Old Friendship by Rashmi Raj – A woman comes back to the town where she grew up. We discover that the woman is grown up and has got grey hair now. And she meets the boy who was her best mate when she was a girl and he has grey hair too. What happens after that and how the story strands of the past and the present weave together into a potentially interesting future is told in the rest of the story.

Broken by Anushree – A woman is in a battered state. Her life appears to be dark and bleak. How she gets up, dusts herself, and what she does about her situation, and whether it works forms the rest of the story.

The Princess Charming by Agamonee Barbaruah – A young journalist is pressured by her mother to leave her job and get married. How she responds to that forms the rest of the story.

Never too Late for Starting Over by Kasturi Patra – A woman comes home with her young daughter to celebrate the Pujo holidays at her parents’ place. Things are going well at home with everyone catching up when this woman’s mother invites all her daughters into her room and drops a bombshell. You have to read the story to find out what that is and what happens after that.

A Series of Fortunate Events by Vijayalakshmi Harish – The narrator’s wedding gets cancelled. She calls it a fortunate event. Then one fortunate thing follows another defying Shakespeare’s maxim. To know more about these fortunate events, do read the story.

The Empty Nest by Tanvi Sinha – A woman in her fifties moves to a new city when her company transfers her there. She finds a house there but her roommate is young, in her twenties. What happens when these two unrelated women from different generations live in the same house is revealed in the rest of the story.

The V-Day Conference by Anupama Jain – A woman called Sita gets up on Valentine’s Day morning. She decides to have a party with her girlfriends. Interestingly (and suspiciously), they are called Draupadi, Yashodhara, Rukmini, Radha and Urmila. The real identities of these mysterious women and how their Valentine’s Day celebrations proceed form the rest of the story.

I liked most of the stories in the book, but if I am compelled to choose favourites, they would be ‘The Girl with the Sealed Vagina‘, ‘An Old Friendship‘ and ‘Broken‘. There is a beautiful introduction at the beginning of the book by Aparna Vedapuri Singh which talks about how this book came about.

I enjoyed reading ‘When Women Speak Up‘. It is a beautiful, moving account of how women of different ages, from different walks of life, defy the restrictions imposed on them by tradition and culture, to pursue their dreams and live a more enriching life. It is very inspiring.

Have you read ‘When Women Speak Up‘? What do you think about it?

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I discovered Rein Raud’sThe Brother‘ through Melissa’s (The Book Binder’s Daughter) review of it.

A mysterious man walks into a town during a rainy night. A woman who lives in the town has inherited a lot of wealth after her mother passes, but before long, people in important positions in the town plot together and betray her trust and swindle her, and she ends up losing everything and works in an antique shop for a living. This mysterious man meets this woman and tells her that he is her brother and their father told him to help her if she ever got into trouble and that is why he has come. This mysterious man then sets in motion a succession of events which wreaks havoc on the bad guys. What happens after that forms the rest of the story.

The Brother‘ is a tale of revenge. It is cool and stylish like any good tale of revenge is. It is not very long, at around 130 pages, and the events move at a lively pace and Rein Raud’s prose glides along smoothly. Most of the characters don’t have names, except for three women characters. The main character is just called ‘The Brother’. The name of the town is also not specified. It could be any town, anywhere. The story, in its plot and style, reminded me a lot of Alessandro Baricco’s revenge stories. When I read the acknowledgements page in the end, I was happy to see that the author has mentioned Baricco.

I enjoyed reading ‘The Brother‘. This is my first Estonian novel. So Yay! I will look forward to reading more of Rein Raud’s works.

I will leave you with one of my favourite passages from the book.

“Some people move through the world in such a way that their sense of order goes along with them. When they enter my room and see an open book lying face-down and crooked on the desk, they will, without fail, pick it up, bookmark the page with a strip of paper, and position it neatly on the corner of the desk, face-up, its spine evenly parallel to the edge. Those people must possess a great clarity, which keeps them connected to the overarching sense of order, and which comes to mind when they see the errors of the world. I don’t have that. When I bump something in a strange room by accident, I always try to put it back exactly where it was before. I don’t know whether the spot is right or wrong. I wish for nothing other than to be capable of slipping through the world without leaving a single trace behind.”

Have you read ‘The Brother‘? What do you think about it?

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