January 24, 2012

Book Review---"A Calender Too Crowded"

Book Title: A Calender Too Crowded.

Author: Sagarika Chakraborty.

Born in Kolkata, Sagarika Chakraborty studied law at National Law University, Jodhpur and is currently studying management at IBM Hyderabad.
She is an avid salsa enthusiast.
Apart from her contribution to the field of research, she writes light fiction and poetry for online and print media.

Price: Rs 295/-

Publishing House: Niyogi Books.

A smile crossed my face as i switched on my laptop to post in a review about the book i had just finished savouring.
The calender reminded me it was the 24th of January---The National Day Of The Girl Child..What better day to write about a wonderfully crafted book on the need of emancipation of women and awareness about their status in society than today?

"A Calender Too Crowded" is a collection of poignant stories that revolve around the theme of womanhood and their continuing subjugation in society.
It deals with the need for emancipation of the fairer sex in an unfair society.It reveals the ugly truth carefully camouflaged by a hypocritical society of so-called 'equals'.

The book is divided into segments based on the calender months, carefully listing out the special days heralding woman rights in each month---before proceeding to narrate heart wrenching tales from rural and urban India.
While stories like 'The witch without a broomstick' and 'When the Ganges ran dry' speak about the injustice stemming from widowhood and biased mindsets, there is 'The homecoming' wherein a woman is given complete freedom to make a difficult decision and how her heart helps her in sorting out the confusion.

Repeated mention of characters from The Mahabharata helps the reader relate an era gone by to the present day world and likewise the position of women in each.

One amongst my favorites is a beautifully written letter addressed to Krishna by Panchali, wherein she reminds him on how a sense of equal friendship had prevailed over her as she ripped her Saree to dress his bleeding wound, when he was attacked by Shishupal.
Her innocent questions like "If the same was acceptable then, why is a hue and cry raised today when a woman stands up for a friend, who incidentally happens to be a man?" makes one ponder whether we are really living in a progressive society or a society in which women's emancipation (that we believe we are fighting for) is something that had already existed since time immemorial and is just covered under layers of dust?

The myths associated with the glamour world is discussed upon and so is the concept of the 'nice girl' who deserves much better.
With an equally sharp razor edged cynicism, Sagarika speaks of the insensitive remarks passed by society on rape victims 'inviting' it upon themselves, by blaming it on the way they dress or the timing that they return home.
Topics like prostitution, dowry deaths, infertility and single motherhood are also woven into stories that make one not just feel a lump in their throat but also swallow the acrid taste of reality and bitterness that surfaces up from time to time, while reading---the reality and bitterness that comes from the guilt of living in a society where womanhood is still cursed and trampled upon.

"Daughter-in-law's can never really become daughters and mother-in-law's can never really become mothers, but when do they cease to be human beings with minds and hearts?"
In her story about the dowry system, Sagarika makes us wonder whether the mark of the vermillon is a reason for security or the cause for insecurity.

Not disclosing a single name (neither real nor imaginary) in any of the twenty-two stories, Sagarika stands totally justified in saying that each of the story represents millions of oppressed souls, waiting to be heard.

Poetry is another strong form of expression which has been successfully made use of in "Can you hear me, ma?', 'Beyond those whispers' and 'The 'positive' negativity'.
Behind the rhyme and verses lies the harsh truth, subtle cynicism and a hint of optimism carefully wrapped in a neat little package.

The letters exchanged between chipku and her ammi in 'selling a body to gain a mind' are indeed heartwarming and speak volumes of a mother's love---ready to sacrifice every bit of her life for her daughter's good.The realisation that it is only when the girl child is educated that she will be able to get out of the drudgery that her mother had to face and will be able to live a life that is different and better than hers, is something that should not be ignored amidst the sea of emotions here.Very cleverly crafted, this story makes a special place in your heart.

What i particularly liked about Sagarika's writing is her optimism---the tiny beam of hope that is reflected in each of the stories, no matter how dark and sombre they may be---a hope that things can change..the optimism that things will.
The easy language and interesting flow of the stories compels the reader to be pulled into each of the stories and stay engrossed.
Sagarika Chakraborty's choice of topic has not only managed to impress me, but has also fuelled the flicker of hope that in the age of better selling romantic novels and Chick lit's, there still exists young minds that choose to write about topics far more important and yet far less discussed.

However, I only wish some of the stories could have had a little dialogue exchange between characters as that would probably have had a little more of an impact on the reader's mind.

All in all, I really liked the book and highly recommend it.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Tanz said...

Wonderful review.I cant wait to read this book!

Anonymous said...

Wow! Thanks .. I'm overwhelmed! Wish you left a ping back but glad I found the review here :)

Sonakshi said...

the review is soo beautiful, I am sure that the book is event better!

Pri said...

Thanks dear.You must read the book.
I think you are going to love it :)

Pri said...

@ Sagarika
You deserve every compliment up there.Im glad i read your book.Keep up the good writing :)

Pri said...

@ Sonakshi
Thanks for dropping by to read me.As for Sagarika Chakraborty's book, all i can say is that it is a must read for every girl/woman :)

Vyankatesh said...

Looks to be nice book!! And on an important topic in today's time.