Friday, June 7, 2013

Book Review: Because I Am A Girl - Seven Girls Seven Lives

On the jacket:

Because I Am a Girl is a collection of seven stories of seven girls from different parts of India who fought with their situation and tried to empower themselves. With an Introduction by Govind Nihalani and written by personalities from all walks of life—writers, actors, artists, and TV stars—the stories try to capture their struggles, their dreams, and how they keep hope alive in their lives. • Anjum Hasan visits a village in Bharatpur, Rajasthan, where young girls are forced to become sex workers. • Pooja Bedi goes to Lucknow and meets a woman who gets an ultrasound done but then decides against killing her unborn baby girl. • Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan travels to Hyderabad where she meets a young girl who comes to the city, learns data entry and finds herself a job. • Shahana Goswami meets a young school drop-out who has done a beautician’s course, and plans to set up her own parlour. • Namrita Bachchan tells the story of a young girl who sells vegetables in the male-dominated Delhi’s Govindpuri sabzi mandi during the wee hours of the morning and then learns to read and write during the day. • Nafisa Ali Sodhi writes about a young girl in Delhi, who works as a rag picker but is a bright young student. • Aditi Rao Hydari encounters a woman whose husband died of tuberculosis and who is training to be a nurse now while being an apprentice in a hospital.


Because I Am A Girl - Seven Girls Seven Lives came across as a recommendation from a fellow book-reviewer who is very well-read. Following her recommendation, I googled about the book, liked the synopsis and the concept behind it and placed an order for it.

Because I Am A Girl - Seven Girls Seven Lives is a happy book. It doesn't talk about people in the best of situations, what it does talk about is how they made the best of what situations they were presented with. To me, that is a major part and pride of being a woman. To be given the worst of all deals, yet make the best that can be, off it.

With an introduction by Govind Nihalani, Because I Am A Girl - Seven Girls Seven Lives has seven stories about seven girls written by Anjum Hassan, Shahana Goswami, Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan, Pooja Bedi, Aditi Rao Hydari, Namrita Bachchan and Nafisa Ali Sodhi. Very well written and crisply edited, though these are not the aspects you would be concentrating on, you would be living the stories, like the writers were.

My favourite of the seven are by Shahana Goswami and Anjum Hassan. Hassan's story of a bar dancer shows so much promise that one cannot help but feel, all is not bleak for the Indian woman. Of course, a story has word limits, does not accommodate ever hardship the protagonist went through, but the way even men & women in rural India have a modern outlook, was fascinating. Goswami's story showed another shade of our society were a woman who has worked in people's houses to bring up her children is actually broad minded to let her own twenty-five year old daughter make her own career first instead of getting her tied down to marriage.

Every story talks about women who are struggling to make ends meet. Yet, every story exudes positivity and courage. Probably because that's what being a girl is all about - being courageous, because the world will never be kind and a girl will always have to fight her way out.

Read this, to feel good. Read this, to interospect.

Rating: *****/5

[This is a personal read.]

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