Do We Shape Society or Does It Shape Us?
Here’s a small scene from my fiction novel that I hope to release this year.
Sitting by window on a mild morning in London, as I reach another major milestone of my novel, I thought that now might be a great point to share more of the book with you.
So for today, here’s a full scene. Whether you read this as a page from my book or a piece of my soul, please be gentle.
For a little bit of context, Tara is an adult, Ria and Simran are children and Neha is a baby. It’s only an unedited draft so it will go through rounds of tidying up as books usually do. So here goes.
The cartoon channel played Chota Bheem. Based on the world’s oldest epic, Mahabharata, Chota Bheem was a collection of stories based on the life of little Bheem, the strongest and youngest of the Pandava brothers.
Tara sat with Ria and Simran explaining to them the story of the five brothers while a curious Neha crawled nearby. Almost nine months old now, Neha was clearly enjoying her new ability to get around on her own.
‘Is this a true story?’ Ria asked, as little Bheem showed off his prowess.
‘I don’t know about that Ria, but it’s an amazing story. You should read it when you’re older. It’s part of a Sanskrit epic.’
‘What’s Sanskrit?’ Ria asked.
Just then, Tara’s mother walked in. ‘Tara, please can you help me with the sari, I’m not able to set the pleats.’
Without a word, Tara got up to help her mother who was now stood in front of the full length mirror waiting for help. Draping a sari could get tricky at the best of times. The pleats had to be impeccable and when finished, the sari had to be about a centimetre or two above the floor — low enough to cover your toes but high enough not to get in the way while you walked. While the pleats at the front had to be perfect, the decorated loose bit at the back, also called the pallu, had to be carried with flair. All of this while your midriff lay exposed. If carried well, the entire ensemble could be very sensual.
Tara bent to the floor to begin adjusting the pleats near her mother’s feet. With the afternoon’s conversation still weighing her down, she wanted to avoid conversation and tried to appear engrossed in the cartoons.
‘Uncle was asking your father if there is any hope.’ Her mother said softly.
‘What about?’ Tara asked, without looking up. She understood yet pretended not to.
‘I mean hope for you and Aman to get back together.’ Her mother said. Tara felt her mother’s gaze upon her.
‘Why do they put it that way? They make it sound like I’m dying.’
Maybe they would actually rather see me dead, thought Tara.
‘Yes, but that’s how people see it, it is like death.’ her mother said.
‘People. Does everything in life always have to centre around what people think?’ Tara wanted to scream.
But she said nothing. Instead, she focused on perfecting the appearance of the blue Banarsi silk saree with the zari gold border.
Perhaps in another place and another time, Tara might have reasoned. But who was she to offer hope when her own sense of despair grew with each passing minute. Feeling emotionally drained, she chose to stay silent. How many was she going to convince? Did she even want to try? Did her reasoning matter to them? Did their approval matter to her? If her reasoning didn’t matter to them then why did their approval matter so much?
Tara was really struggling to reason not with the world, but with herself.
After all, wasn’t it this the family she craved to meet, whose acceptance she’d longed for?
But from the place where she stood, that appeared impossible, at least for now. To them, she wasn’t a person but a token — a symbol of family pride born to be a bride.
She wasn’t sure if marriages were meant for women or women for marriage? But one thing was for sure. Once you were raised and celebrated, it was incumbent upon you to be gone and forgotten.
In the background, Chotta Bheem saved the day. Looking at Bheem and then at Neha, she wondered if power solved all problems. If so, how could she get some?
Having draped the sari, she slid back into the couch with the kids and they made space for her. They didn’t judge her. They didn’t advise her. With sparkling eyes full of hope, they simply accepted her for who she was.
That’s All For Now
That’s me having finished 50% of the book. I hope to finish the first draft by end March 2021 before I’ll begin to look for editors, agents and publishers.
I believe good writing is not about creating emotion but capturing the emotion that everyone saw yet no one acknowledged. Please wish me the best as I continue to capture.
‘Good writing is not about creating emotion but capturing the emotion that everyone saw yet no one acknowledged.’