SHE by Dr Sarika Jain – Review

SHE is the debut work by author Dr Sarika Jain. I got to read and review this book the past week. And here I am sharing the review and my thoughts about this book which I won’t shy away from calling wonderful and a must-read outrightly!

The full title of the book is SHE: A message for those who belittle girls and the book cover shows something different – SHE stands for acronym – Stop Hurting Me Every Day. Both, the actual title as well as the acronym, hint at one common message – women and girls are the subjects of this book and their issues, problems they face and examples they set every day are the major highlights in the book’s content. If you guessed the same, you are right.

Sarika believes in making changes in the society’s attitude towards women will help eradicate many of the crimes and injustices that are committed against them. She has told the same in a conversation for the Author Interviews platform: read here.

18 Chapters in her book discuss various issues related to girls and women. She has drawn parallels and tried to compare side by side the situation of women in India and in other countries. She has also acknowledged the progress where it has been made and also denounced the conditions that need to be denounced. Her book is not an excuse for women who have not been successful. Neither is her book the gospel that tries to outshout all the men in the world inspired by some hatred for them. SHE is a book that is a balanced analysis based on the most corrected form of feminism in the spirit of virtue.

Her book has been appreciated by the readers as well as the critics alike. Many leading book review websites in India have rated the book very highly. When it has become a normal practice for the authors to portray women as the victims and bash all the men (those who should be and those who stand for women), Sarika Jain’s book brings the fresh ideas of morally right feminism that does not look to overlap or jump out men but actually looks for the actual equality and the rest will be done by the women themselves. And you can see this in the examples that she has offered in her chapters. So, the flow of ideas is brilliant – expose the problem, talk about inspiring examples and then offer a concluding idea that can turn the heads into thoughts of a better tomorrow. Moreover, a poem at the end of each of the chapters is also amazing. Those who like reading poetry will surely appreciate this experiment of showing more than one talent that you have…

I will suggest the readers across age group and across gender should read her book because Dr Sarika’s book is not meant for women and girls or a certain age group but for all who can read. You will know about the real problems on the ground and also the real inspiring stories from the ground. It will surely motivate you! Get a copy from Amazon:

Buy the ebook or paperback copy of Sarika’s book – click here

review by Surabhi Garg

Not Without My Daughter

How does it feel like being in an Islamic Nation? How would you react if you happen to witness a Muslim husband physically abusing his wife in the public? Wait, before you make any hasty decision, Islamic Nations allow men to have full authority over their wife and daughter. (Betty Mahmoody’s Not Without My Daughter suggests the same)

Not Without My Daughter by Betty Mahmoody is a 1987 novel which runs to 420 pages and has an entirely biographical surface. The author is narrating the story of her escape from Iran along with her daughter Mahtob. This novel traces the difficulties that the author and her daughter had to brave in order to land back in the USA from Iran of those days. (Has it changed even recently?)

When I first read the novel, I was filled with an utter disgust against the lawmakers of Islamic nations; how can someone allow a person to beat women in public and everything is fine with the passers by? Iran has been long-known for its hatred against Americans and also to an extent women. All these qualities of this nation are very elaborately captured in Not Without My Daughter.

Talking briefly about the storyline, it might go like the following. In 1977, Betty married Dr. Sayed Bozorg Mahmoody with a hope of better life and a better future. All goes fine and soon they are blessed with a girl child. When the daughter of those, Mahtob, turns five, Sayed tries to persuade his wife to accompany him to Iran. However, Betty doesn’t seem to agree and she is forced to go with Sayed. The hesitation on the part of Betty is understood as she is a little troubled with the thought of being in Iran, knowing that the status of women in Islamic nations is very bad. Moreover, as she holds an American passport, her reservations are more obvious! Somehow, she reaches Iran and got the shock of her life when she was forced to remain there. Her husband wanted her to remain there for life and then the struggle of a woman and her daughter begins – getting out of an Islamic nation Iran… Betty could have done it alone, very easily. However, the fact that her daughter is also trapped there makes her a little more careful about her moves. Rest of the novel is the journey to freedom with so many obstacles on the way…

Her escape from Iran turns out to be a big ordeal involving a lot of torturous situations. But she fights bravely against all odds only for her daughter. The indomitable courageous spirit displayed by Betty was for real. While writing this book she changed the name and places associated with people who helped her to save them from execution by the Iranian Government. Overall a controversial book unveiling lot of inside stories. Anyone who is interested in reading the real feminism in action should go through Betty Mahmoody’s Not Without My Daughter!

The Liberation of Sita

Women are conditioned for ages to belong to the world which includes their family members. They forget about themselves being individuals too. They don’t consider themselves worthy of the love which they give to others. This is, at least, the version of feminists. This time, I am looking into the book which re-tells the story of Ramayana, the great Hindu epic, through the alter ego – Sita. Much other than Sita, the book seems to speak the language of modern age feminists, using Sita as a vehicle of their thoughts.

‘The Liberation of Sita’ written by well-known Telugu writer Volga and translated into English by T. Vijay Kumar and C. Vijayasree is an attempt to look at Sita in a different light. Sita is better known as the wife of Purushottam Ram. I wonder why even after fulfilling her duties as a wife and as a daughter in law wholeheartedly why she is not awarded with an adjective like Nari Uttama. The book retrospects the image of a woman who is sent to exile in a pregnant state for no fault of hers. A princess by birth, she had spent 14 years in the forest with her husband, and later alone giving birth and raising her two sons with values and skills expected from princes of Raghukul. During her stay in forest, she happens to meet four women who help her in attaining realization of self. These women are actually minor characters in the heroic saga of Lord Rama. These characters gain a voice in this book and speak their heart out.
The book relives Ramayana through Sita who is not shown as a privileged princess but as a woman abandoned by Maryada Purushottam Rama because he has to prove just to his masses. Sita takes all on herself and sacrifices to this altar of fidelity. She starts her journey with pain but her encounters with Surpnakha, Ahalya, Renuka and Urmila make her realise her identity. She ends her journey after attaining self-actualization.

‘I am the daughter of Earth, Rama, I have realized who I am.’

Though it is too easy for the feminist writers to re-tell and alter any epic, famous novel, famous story through the eyes of the female protagonist, let us ask a few pertinent questions regarding The Liberation of Sita. For most of the people who claim to be intellectuals, the epics are all ‘only written documents’ without any factual correctness of the events. In short, epics are equal to fiction! Good enough – however, then, every fiction has the right to enjoy its independence; why does it bother the re-artists and they tend to bash almost all the ‘celebrated’ male protagonists? Do they every say wrong to the evil king Ravana who forcibly imprisons Sita? That’s strange, isn’t it?

If we tend to believe that the epics are historical records of things which happened on the Indian soil, then we must believe in the theory of Avatars. By that logic, it was all pre-defined and Lord Vishnu, along with Goddess Lakshmi, was to play his part on the earth. So, let’s settle with that – that was to set the example for the generations to follow.

However, as a woman, with due respect to all the characters of Valmiki Ramayana, I am a little connected to this Sita version in The Liberation of Sita. Let us embark a journey through the eyes of Sita. There are sentences that the females will relate to. I found myself too deeply affected by a few. A must read for all females in particular to identify themselves and for the males to gain a new perspective.