‘Choice Ganga and Other Stories’ by Vasanthi highlights continuing oppression of women: The Tribune India

n Kamala

Vasanthi’s collection of 15 stories takes a long, serious, and consistent look at the situations faced by (mainly) women and (some) men in a world that avoids acknowledging this fact. He’s ruthless, hard-hitting and angry, or at least he should. The events and stories are what we may have read in the papers, but the novelist takes over from the journalist who was former Vasanthi. A quick look at the stories shows how “real” they are.

Testimony is about the fear of speaking out or of witnessing to atrocities. Stifling women’s voices inside and outside the home is a daily reality for millions of women. The “symbol” symbolizes the devadasis and their fate, forever polluted and defeated. The stigma never goes away as former singer Devadasi realizes several decades later. The Dance of the Gods is a contemporary retelling of Panchali’s story. The central character is horrified by the habit of different men entering her bedroom in the absence of her husband in the family in which she is married. The question that haunts us is would the mother have asked the two brothers to share equally “if she knew what to share?”

In “The Mousetrap”, a young bride is assaulted by a family member who in turn is beaten for daring to do so. A violent end to the violation of a woman. A more violent epilogue is depicted in “The Untold,” a frightening tale of sexual exploitation. The Voice also resonates with violence in the story of child marriage. There is complete sympathy for all the protagonists in these stories as they express the unspoken depths of frustration, anger, exploitation and powerlessness that they experience.

Ganga’s Choice highlights how women’s identity is seen as related to reproductive ability. If you can’t have children, your inability to marry reverberates throughout the story, but the protagonist doesn’t allow society’s expectations to keep it frustrated. It is the only story that shows how bold and free a woman can be. We’re still breeding, “Are we just reproductive machines?” He asks a woman in a “murder”.

“Hands” is the only soft story if you like, about old age, arranged marriage, and different kinds of love expressed or not. In “Punishment,” the hero is a police officer caught between two generations – the appearance of his father representing his conscience, and his son, an activist student. In Gap, a Muslim prisoner is released on Independence Day to find that freedom does not mean freedom of action. “He Came” and “Line of Control” addresses the current political issues of pandemic and hatred among communities fueled by cross-border and internal hostilities.

These stories were translated from Tamil by Sukanya Venkataraman, Jomthi Narayanan and Vasanthi herself. What stands out is the excessive use of footnotes and explanations within the text which do not actually add to the narration. Obviously, the question arises: to whom are the stories translated?

This is a collection of harrowing tales of women’s oppression, with some acts of redemption from belief in humanity. Individually, each story is compelling. As a group, writers could do light stories of humor and hope. A complete sense of despair pervades the book, an unshakable mirror of the multi-layered corruption of society. Read it, you must. But one story a day…

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