Wednesday, May 1, 2019
THE ROCK THAT WAS NOT AND OTHER STORIES
Had our ex-CJI, Mr. Dipak Misra read "My husband raped me", "Husband stitch" "Frigid "and other stories in the book "THE ROCK THAT WAS NOT", he wouldn't have made the alarming remark that "Marital rape needn’t be an offence", I believe.
I earnestly wish and recommend all men, irrespective of their educational and official status, read this book, for then they can have a minimum level of understanding about how a woman feels. It's not that all men are beastly, but we have to accept that such men and ruthless women called mother in law and sister in law who back these men in hurting women, do exist in our society.
I would like to specially appreciate the author Githanjali (Penname of Dr.Bharathi MS, a Doctor, Sexologist and Psychotherapist by profession) for being bold enough to choose such a challenging subject, a burning issue which really exists but is connived at conveniently by our society. The book is truly content rich and It explores the day to day issues in a woman's life which are neither talked about nor discussed. Some of them fight it out, of course after suffering for long and become independent while some succumb to their ill -fate. As truly said in the introduction, "these are the stories of resistance, protest and transformation."
The translator Dr Suneetha Rani, Professor at the centre for women's studies, Hyderabad also has done an excellent job of converting Telugu into simple and beautiful English, enabling an effortless reading as though you are reading in your mother tongue! As she acknowledges in the book, this surely is her "intervention in the field of women's/feminist/ sexuality studies."
I have read a good lot of English as well as Malayalam short stories including classics so far, but haven't ever come across this horrifying subject of sexual violence and related miseries in our households in any of those. When you read through, you will feel as if you are seeing somebody's life just in front of you. Most of these must be true life incidents just spiced with imagination, I guess.
The language conveys easily but the subject being heavy, it is not an easy or light read at all. The stories will haunt you, make you miserable, suffocate, weep and what not. It will really be a heart breaking experience to realise how cruel this patriarchal society is towards our fellow women! The societal conditioning as well as stigma being that severe, many of these women themselves choose to remain in the trap of never ending misery, knowingly succumbing to all the atrocities towards them silently. Malanbi of story 'Offering' is such a helpless human being. Suffering, endless suffering, is that the plight of women in an average Indian household?
After reading the book, I have developed a strong detest for the so called 'sacred nupital thread', because it is this thread that gives a man the license to beastly rape a lady, if he so desires. There are a good lot of Malayalam TV serials (Soap operas I mean) woven around the theme of 'sacred' nupital thread even now!
"The fall of man" tells us about Darshita, who "could not bear the wounds that he caused by raping her under the license of scared thread." Do you know why she chose to join gender studies course? Just "to understand the source of her husband's authority that gave him license to assault her."
I too have been wondering where the fault lies exactly, like the foetus that tells us her mother's misery – "From six to sixty, women are being victimized by the demonic lust of male beasts….are women 's bodies easily available commodities to fulfil men's shameless lust? Where did the fault lie- in men's thoughts or women's bodies?" (The swish of the world).
"…what he did is licensed atrocity in the name of marriage. Marital rapes within the four walls have societal acceptance. It's the man's right." (Frigid)
While the story 'The rock that was not' exposed me to silicone implantation done for flat chested women, 'Husband stitch' threw light on that extra stitch done in a woman's vagina to increase her husband's pleasure. I was terrified while reading the women's plight, and the hardships which they had to face later.
'My husband raped me' ends thus " ...Satvika (hardly 17 years old) said (to the sub-Inspector) 'My husband raped me'. I (Doctor) stepped out of the room. Women, pregnant women were waiting for me with reports in their hands and grief in their eyes."
A chill ran through my spine while reading 'Stone' which tells the story of the 17 year old girl Asra who was being continuously abused and raped by her biological father from the age of 7 Years! My eyes welled up while reading the story of Kasturi in 'Frigid' who was abused terribly by her paternal uncle and later in life by her own husband.
Here goes the musing of Tapasvi, an young wife, from the story 'Kiss': "Did good mean just being six feet tall and fair, having a bank job and owning a house and a car?" I could imagine how disastrous it is when one is forced to live with a man who does 'emotional adultery' to his wife.
Each of the 12 stories are different, and include all classes of society, rich and poor, educated and uneducated. And it deals with only one class - the universal class called women!
And I would like to thank Ratna Books for the translation series, as otherwise I would not have been able to read Marathi, Assamese , Telugu and other Indian language books. So also, as an woman, I'm especially grateful to publishing a series itself on feminist issues. The book has excellent hard cover, good paper quality and printing with not a single printer's devil to spot out. As a reader, I feel honoured to have such a quality book, both in appearance as well as contents. As a translator, I'm overwhelmed to see equal importance being granted to the translator also along with original author.