Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Like A Girl

Of Omissions and Commissions and Parallel Universes

It is not as if role models for girls are in short supply in India. The problem is more of awareness of such role models. Therefore, when a book like 'Like a Girl', written by Aparna Jain, came along, and when I was approached if I would be interested in reviewing it, I was inquisitive, to say the least. The book is broken up into fifty-one short chapters and read (I listened to the audio book, via Audble) by several persons - Suchitra Pillai, Varsha Varghese, Tisca Chopra, Aparna Jain, Ritu Dalmia, Malishka Mendonsa, Kirti Jayakumar, and Rasika Duggal. This goes nicely with the different chapters that cover different characters, and therefore there is no perceived discontinuity. Each narrator brings her own personality to the rendition. Less can be said about the content, however, which is fairly anodyne and rarely rises above the literary level of a hastily-written Wikipedia article.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

A mother who abandoned her son. A mother who could not.

unti abandoned her first-born son, Karna, almost immediately after birth. Gandhari aborted her first foetus out of frustration. There in lies a tale of two mothers.

Kunti did not abort Karna. Perhaps the swiftness with which Karna was born after her union with Lord Surya did not afford her the opportunity, or perhaps she did not want to, since foeticide was an abominable crime. In any case, what the Mahabharata tells us that she did not keep this child. She abandoned him, and the infant was found by the charioteer and raised by his wife, Radha, as their own son. Kunti went on to marry the Kuru king, Pandu, becoming the mother of the five Pandavas. Three of the sons were hers, and two were Madri's. Had she allowed herself to be stained with the stigma of unwed motherhood, perhaps there would not have been a Kunti as we know her. She would not have been even a footnote in the Mahabharata.