Might of the pen …

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You and I live in uncertain times. We do not know which action of our past, present or future will lead to a crime.

Would someone who claims to be a lover turn into a necrophile like the criminal in the case of Ayesha from Vijaywada, Andhra Pradesh, whose chest was tattooed with the word ‘Chiruta’, before being heinously murdered. Or in the case of Jessica Lal, Delhi, a refusal to a drink that lead to her death. Or the most recent twisted case of Sheena Bora, Mumbai -her future course of marriage turned out be a reason for her mother Indrani Mukerjea to plot her murder. (Indrani was allegedly raped by her step father, and Sheena is, thus, her daughter and sister.)

These horrific incidents remain as stories in news for a limited period of time and then lose steam. The media moves on for juicier stories and debates.

But these writers/story tellers have gone through the turmoil and written about mishaps that have challenged the way we think.

Pinki Virani’s Story

The book written by Pinki Virani, published in the year 2000, is the story of Aruna Shanbaug’s rape and her vegetative life, aftermath. Yes, the nurses at the KEM hospital, Mumbai, were selfless in their service towards Aruna Shanbaug, who was raped by a ward boy whom she had reprimanded and for 42 years she lived in a vegetative state.

The incident occurred in 1973 when there was no electronic media boom and would have been forgotten had Pinki Virani, a journalist not taken up the case and written about it.


In the book, she acknowledges the service of the nurses at the KEM hospital but she also pinpoints that she should be let go.

In a BBC report, columnist Bachi Karkaria writes, Ms Virani’s petition was not for a lethal injection, but permission to remove any artificial intervention that would keep Ms Shanbaug alive – in much the same way that Jain ascetics simply stop eating when they are ready to die.

But it turned into an ugly custody battle – the KEM nurses claimed that because they had looked after her for 37 years, “she belongs to us”‘ and has “become our bond”.

The passive euthanasia law was passed in 2011. Had it not been for Pinki Virani, the law would never have been passed.

Aarushi by Avirook Sen


Since the beginning of the Aarushi case (the double murder of the 14-year-year Aarushi and their domestic help, Hemraaj in Noida) that had been extensively highlighted with a neon marker in the Indian Media, the judgement was unofficially passed even before any arrests were made. Finally, the Talwars (Aarushi’s parents) had been unconvincingly arrested. The case resurfaced when the book by journalist Avirook Sen, who was closely following the case, was published last month.

It answers questions that were ticking at the back of the minds but no one cared for the answers. But Avirook Sen investigated the investigations and amid the hotpotch of judiciary, media, and the personal loss of the Talwars, a book with clear cut facts were presented for the readers and the audience to decide.


Ever since the book was released last month, social media has been abuzz with opinions, views, comments. And documenting this case will serve as a reminder of the times we live in. It will serve as a reference every time we miscalculate the intentions and misjudge a set of people.

Nari by Sharath Komarraju


For a writer, sensitive and acutely aware to the world around, it is not difficult to get influenced by it. And, the fiction book titled ‘Nari’ by Sharath Komarraju (July 2015) is an evidence of it.

From the blurb of the book:

Nari is a chronicle of sexual abuse told from the points of view of the victim and the perpetrator. Set in present-day Hyderabad, when Ramya Tirthankar, the young wife of a retired army man, and their seventeen-year-old servant, Narayana – lovingly called ‘Nari’ – accuse each other of rape.


An interview with the author about his experience writing this book:

What encouraged you to write a book on this topic?

Rape has become an important topic of conversation in India lately. I couldn’t help but feel from all the popular content that has been written about rape that they’re incomplete and not comprehensive enough. I thought perhaps it will be interesting to write a novel on the subject, where it could be examined with more depth. So I wrote Nari.


Do you think more writers should focus on contemporary issues in their writing?

It’s not for me to say what writers should write about. In fact, I believe that writers should write about whatever interests them. Trying to be topical just for the sake of it could backfire.

What is the research that you have done for your book? 

Not much research apart from books and research papers that focus on human sexuality. The approach I took with Nari was that sexual abuse could only be understood if we understand sexual behaviour properly.

How has the response been?

The response has been good so far. From what people have told me, the book is making them think and question some basic truths about sexuality. I don’t expect everyone who reads the book to like it, but as long as it encourages readers to ask questions, I’m happy.

Do you feel we are less secure and certain about our future in terms of the rising crime incidents or is it the media attention that makes us feel so?

I do think there is a bit of media spotlight on crimes of this nature at the moment, and 24-hour news has made it harder for all of us to have a peaceful night’s sleep. The official statistics concerning rape and sexual abuse have not changed in the last two years compared to the years before, but what has changed is the media’s coverage of it, which has heightened the sense that India is becoming less and less safe with each passing day. That narrative is perhaps not quite right.


Did you go through any emotional turmoil while writing?

Nari is my most ‘sexual’ book, and the issues that the characters in the story deal with are quite serious. So yes, I did go through emotional distress when writing it. This is generally true of anything a fiction writer writes. Your emotional makeup closely resembles that of your characters’ during the process.


The books in this post have been only chosen from the point of view of violence on women and the changes that they have brought in the system/reader/writer.

Image source: Amazon, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, International Center of Goa Web site




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