Enlightening. That single word expresses what i felt after reading Sagarika Chakraborty's debut novel 'A Calendar too Crowded.'
With a title like ' A Calendar too Crowded' and a speculative profile of a woman for a cover, it might mislead you to think it is a serious collection of women centered stories. On the contrary, despite touching a diverse set of issues plaguing women today, it comes across a novel with lots of hope.
The novel is a melange of rich stories detailing a plethora of issues concerning women. From self sacrificing mothers who will give anything and everything to make their child's dream of a dream career alive, to benefits of breast feeding, the consequences of homelessness resulting in women falling prey to pimps and flesh trade and being sold of for a petty amount, to the poignant relationship between a prostitute and her daughter who miraculously escapes the vicious cycle to become a documentary film maker, Sagarika covers it all.
And that is not all. There are stories revealing marital rape and domestic violene, Women's equality, the dynamics of a step sibling relationship, the restlessneess caused by the memory of a pre marriage relationship, which can continue to cast a shadow even after 28 yeara of a good marriage, have all been covered in this collection of short stories.
There is also talks about the PMS and its effects on women.
Sagarika has also talked about two issues plaguing the modern women.In the story , 'Choices without Options' , where women are abused behind the thick four walls of their homes.
Then there is 'Rape without Penetration' especially in the glamour industry have to face as for many men 'Being Glamorous' is synonyms with 'Easy'.
The second,' An Equal Friendship' where Panchali writes a letter to Krishna contradicting the fact that women are not treated equally in society. She asserts her skills in warfare, horse riding, culinary and states that women have been equal to men since eternity.
The second story which touched me is 'Selling a Body to Gain a Mind', which outlines the challenges a prostitute faces in giving her daughter a life free of clutches of her sordid profession.
Of the many issues facing women today, i feel prostitution should be of top priority. i feel physical union between a man and a woman should essentially be a manifestation of their emotional and spiritual feelings and not a means of livelihood. While working towards freeing women from oppression and injustice, surely something can be done to rehabilitate prostitutes form this slavery and give them an alternative that is one of dignity and happiness.
A must read for every woman. Go for it.