And, here is how we tell you how. In an exclusive chat with Ahmedabad Blog correspondent Nikita Dudani, Ahmedabad based author Kusum Choppra discusses her upcoming book, “Nirbhaya & Others Who Dared.”
Kusum Choppra’s previous books ‘Beyond Diamond Ring’ and ‘Mastani’ have been revolutionary in their own kind. While the former broke, the rumours around Sindhi Community and the later broke the historical myths around Mastani.
With this book, she hopes to educate women to be strong and fearless. It is time when they took matters to their hand and stop being a representation of how male wants to see them. Here are her thoughts put into words:
Q: Can you give a brief idea about what is your new book is about?
A : Nirbhaya OWD is a book that offers hope…. that age old issues plaguing our society, and perhaps most other Asian societies as well, can be resolved. It is a question of finding new age solutions to these problems. Hence you have 22 stories that illuminate so many lives in which the protagonists deal with perhaps the same issue in various different ways, each woman coming up with a solution that she is comfortable with.
Q: What makes Nirbhaya & Others Who Dared different from your previous books?
A: The three books have one common denominator: female orientation. Otherwise, all three are quite different in essence.
Mastani is strongly research based; everyone thought I was doing a Ph.d on her, but I preferred the historical novel format for the literary license it gave me in recreating her story.
Beyond Diamond Rings was, in a fashion, history based…. a rare novel on the evolution of women in an almost forgotten community, Bhaibund Sindhis, never mind if they are amongst the most successful businessmen in the world today.
In that sense, Nirbhaya is totally contemporary. It is about today and now’s women — persons that the reader can totally identify with. No history here. It’s all now.
Q: What or who inspired you to write this book?
A: The obvious answer would be Nirbhaya of the Dec 2012 fame. She instigated it. The Nirbhaya slant was pointed out to me by a young educator, Vishwa Shrivasta when he read some of my short stories and encouraged me to focus on the issue of women regaining their status. (Remember women in ancient India held a very high place in society. Why not now?) That led to a whole slew of short stories with a positively Nirbhaya focus, casting a wide net from villages to the Armed Forces, from young girls to grandmothers and so many more.
Q: The name comes across as though it is about the 2012 Delhi Rape Case. Is it related to rape victims only?
A: There is a Nirbhaya in my book, with a difference: MY NIRBHAYA LIVES AND COMES OUT ON TOP. But rape is not my only issue, it is stalking, dowry death, domestic violence, desertion, impotence, widowhood, divorce, inheritance, responsibility for siblings and parents, girl child vs boy, and so many other issues that plague our society….. as many as 22 stories could accommodate.
Q: What do you want to convey to your audience with this book?
A: To be honest, I genuine believe that women have to start standing up for themselves, not only for their own sakes, but also for the sake of society which is threatening to go haywire otherwise. If we don’t take a stand on correction issues, we will be going down the same path that societies in , say the US went and see what a huge mess has resulted. Is that what we want in India, as a side effect of so called “development”?
Q: How do you think Amdavadis will respond to this book that openly suggests equality for women?
A: Is equality for women a crime?
Ahmedabad has evolved as a city and a society. Women are going to enjoy reading it and hopefully recognize parallels to their lives as well. And I would welcome men to read it too… perhaps they too would recognize signals and be better able to guide their young sons to respect women, knowing the pitfalls of otherwise.
Q: Your earlier two books also revolved around women and their struggles. Does that make you a feministic author vouching for women’s rights?
A: Why this segregating tag “feminist”? Do male authors have a tag of “masculine” or whatever when they write about all the games that men love to play? Yes, I put my women centre front when I write. And have been struggling for years now to overcome patriarchal biases that are brainwashed in to women from the time they are born — to evolve my own views, of what I would like to think and love to have etc etc etc. it has been a tough ride; but I hope that my writing will make it a little easier for the next generation of women…to think for themselves and of themselves, without deteriorating into female looking copies of men….Ugh!!
Q: When is the official launch of the book? And where it will be?
A: Launch events are for the likes of Sachin Tendulkar , Chetan Bhagat and the numerous coffee table books that grace the newspapers after Mumbai Launches.
What we hope to do in Ahmedabad for our Nirbhaya is to hold an event, inviting as many readers and other interested persons as possible, for a sort of read meet; the highlight would a panel discussion focusing on gender justice and other issues raised in the book and by the life and death of NIRBHAYA, to whom this book could be considered a tribute too. Definitely before the month is out.