Dark, witty, fierce, unapologetic stories of women
Pop culture and sexism go hand in hand. Women are mostly seen as objects of desire or as something that you have to win. For a woman to stand out in pop culture, she has to be a rebel. The world just won’t acknowledge women for their little acts of bravery. This women’s day I had an opportunity to explore the writings of a powerful writer, Shikhandin’s book “Impetuous women”. The book has short stories about modern women of all possible walks of life.
In a culture where women are either hailed as goddesses and trophies to win or damsel in distress who are straight away shamed and abused, the women in these short stories show every possible emotions and fierceness and vices and this was in all honesty, a welcoming change. These women are not only crossing the boundaries that society, mostly toxic patriarchal, draws for us but also understanding themselves.
The stories showcase a range of women dealing with a range of issues. From desperation of a woman to keep her partner to herself to a housewife who thinks she’s close with the family but isn’t. The stories are not sugar coated and don’t give us a hope of a happy ending. Rather the originality and the relatability make it not only worth reading multiple times but also serves as an opportunity to discover one’s own unknown side while reading. The characters, be it the younger ones or the adults, are very modern and the darker aspects of them hidden in a fun, light narrative gives us the version of a real woman, destroying the age old narrative that women are just someone’s daughter, mother, wife. The women get their own deserving identity, which in reality we have to scream, shout and fight for every day. The journey the author takes us through her short stories is enlightening and empowering in every possible way.
Misogyny in society was normalized and it becomes tougher for women to break these chains every day. But this isn’t a one day, one speech, one award moment and the women in this book prove that. These women are faces of feminism in their own sweet ways. The book does not claim them to be perfect or ideal. It just tells us that women like these exist and no matter how much you belittle their struggle, that is not going to change their reality. If they’re flawed, they need to work on themselves, exactly like men. And I think that is the definition of feminism that I extract from this book. These are real women. These are their real stories. These short stories have a lingering aftertaste. The alluring cover and the blurb drew my attention like how bees are drawn to the pollen and now after finishing it, I like the book even more.
The pen name of the writer “Shikhandin” itself gives us an image of fierce women who embraced not only her sexuality but also defended it fiercely.
Pop culture is being breached with stories of real women and I am very hopeful that we will have an equal standing (if not more) of real women in front of the fictional objects of desire that the pop culture portrays.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Impetuous Women is about women who step across the Lakshman Rekha, whose transgressions fly in the face of the establishment, the patriarchy, often their own families and loved ones. From two housewives who play a potentially lethal game of keeping up to an expert baker who serves revenge with chocolate sprinkles on top; from a stern hostel warden who examines her relationship with the teenagers she must surveil to a grouchy widow shuts out the world; from a couple madly in love and desperate for a bit of privacy to a tender bond between a husband and wife, these stories create an unforgettable portrait of modern-day India and the experiential realities of being impetuous, of being women. This darkly comic, thrillingly tragic collection of stories is sensuous, bittersweet and whimsical by turns, and always wildly, subversively original.
Impetuous women is published by Penguin India. Buy your copy here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shikhandin is the nom de plume of an Indian writer who writes for adults and children. She is an alumnus of The Anam Cara Writing Workshop, Ireland. Her published books, as Shikhandin, include “Immoderate Men” (Speaking Tiger), and “Vibhuti Cat” (Duckbill-Penguin-RHI). Contributor to Magic Stories for Eight Year Olds by Penguin RHI, and Flipped: An Anthology of School and Sports Stories by Harper Collins. Shikhandin’s honours include, pushcart nominee by Aeolian Harp (USA) 2019, winner 2017 Children First Contest curated by Duckbill in association with Parag an initiative of Tata Trust, first prize Brilliant Flash Fiction Contest 2019 (USA), runner up Half and One Short Story Competition (India), Shortlist Erbacce Poetry Prize (UK), 35th Moon Prize (Writing in a Woman’s Voice: USA), first runner up The DNA-OoP Short Story Contest 2016 (India), second Prize India Currents Katha Short Story Contest 2016 (USA), first prize Anam Cara Short Fiction Competition 2012 (Ireland), long list Bridport Poetry Prize 2006 (UK), finalist Aesthetica Poetry Contest 2010 (UK), Pushcart nominee by Cha: An Asian Literary Journal 2011 (Hong Kong). Shikhandin’s poetry and prose have been published worldwide.
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