When one singular social pursuit has taken you to writing, you have most probably taken a journey similar to Sujata Parashar’s. Her years of working with women in red light areas, strong social activism on the front of female empowerment, and her constant effort in decoding female sexuality has given birth to maybe one of the truest representation of a new age urban Indian woman. In conversation with Ms. Nandita Bose, an eminent writer herself, we discover how important is the representation of a strong, independent flawed woman in literature.
As Ms. Nandita says, today’s literature readers, in a constant goal to one up their fellow readers, we either read bestsellers or prize winners. While the former is the catching on of a fad, the latter is philosophical to the extent of lack of relatability.
There is a great void for impact writing, writing with hits closer home, with characters one can understand and draw a sense of personalised satisfaction. This is the void the two authors want to fill. Ms. Sujata’s female characters were deeply inspired from “Madame Bovary” by Gustave Flaubert. Emma Bovary’s approach to the banalities of provincial life and the constant search for an escape from it, inspired the character of Sheena, in Parashar’s first novel, “In Pursuit of Infidelity”. The flawed characteristics were the main story spinners; when one is disillusioned of marriage, neglect grows in a relationship, and a woman is denied of her sexual expression, a whirlwind of emotions explore infidelity.
Despite being a revolutionary topic, the ending was still in alignment with the need to keep her sexual freedom under wraps. When Ms. Nandita probed this aspect, Ms. Parashar promptly replied. The Indian public couldn’t have digested adultery in the open back then, i.e. 2009. Also keeping in mind the aspects of the story, it is important to drive the nail towards a single point of conflict. After all, it’s a story written purely for the sake of storytelling. It doesn’t aim to preach, condone, or condemn any aspect of human emotions.
After gaining success with “In Pursuit of Infidelity”, Ms. Parashar went on to write two more books in the Pursuit series – ‘In Pursuit of a Lesser Offence’ and ‘In Pursuit of Ecstasy’.
The former took a stance on conversations and dynamics of marriage. What is a lesser influence, a marriage based on wrong reasons, or the infidelity as a consequence to marriages based on wrong reasons?
With her latest book, “The Temple Bar Woman”, she hopes to spread her net beyond the urban landscape. By tracing the journey of a rural woman’s sexual journey, she explores yet another personal conflict. As her character undergoes sexual violence, gets dumped in a brothel, and goes through similar tribulations once again, how do we perceive sexual freedom and consent in such a repressed environment. Can sex workers undergo rape, how fine is the line of consent?
However much vivid the female journey maybe, a common aspect ties all her characters together, they are wacky enough to fight for what’s theirs.
About the Author: At 19, Deepika Aiyer is an avid reader, crazy kdrama fan and loves to explore the What ifs of the world in her spare time.She currently writes for Bookstalkist.