Author: Kamini Kusum
A lot of books, television shows and movies nowadays are taking on themes of women struggles, feminism and women empowerment. They depict journeys of strong-willed women to discover freedom and happiness, in order to be independent and break free from the shackles of a conservative society. One such book is ‘Secrets, Sins and Struggles” by Kamini Kusum.
This book is a collection of short stories about the lives and loves of five women, tracing their long, eventful journeys that are anything but linear. These five interesting female protagonists have different pasts, different circumstances and different trajectories, but it is their fighting spirit that is a common thread in their stories and helps to weave a strong narrative.
In these stories, we meet Avni, who is torn between her childhood friend and her brand-new boyfriend. The story “The Rave Party Night” is indeed a different take on a modern love story with elements of gritty realism. Then there is Pooja in the story “Brothel to Assembly”, a teenager forced into the flesh trade but determined to escape and get justice. In the story “Love, Corporate and Custody”, the protagonist Geshna falls head over heels for a high school sweetheart only to find her own life shrinking to accommodate his.
In the story “Madam Bureaucrat”, there is Shrawani who dreams of becoming a bureaucrat despite all the trials that life throws her way. The story “Sin” has the protagonist Harsha struggling to find her way, being trapped in a loveless marriage while still being haunted by thoughts of her forsaken lover.
The writing style is astute, but sometimes blunt, similar to the situations that the characters are facing. The front and back covers depict strong-willed women, seeming all the way powerful in their serious stance. The blurb at the back cover provides a little sneak peek into the stories.
This is a book that can be described as pointillism of women struggles and their amazing journeys in which they take the challenges that life throws at them head on and emerge victorious. Indeed, such is the strength of these women characters that their journeys can be considered as small, distinct dots in the narrative which form a realistic and beautiful pointillist portrait of women struggles, and in extension, women empowerment.
Also, the stories not only show women’s perspectives and their arduous struggles against a misogynist and patriarchal society, but also a hope that the next turn will lead to the happiness and success they all long for. This is a book that should be read for stories that are as finespun as the powerful characters that they depict.