CHENNAI: From total dependence on men, to survival, and further to empowerment, Indian women have been in constant transition. Bringing out situations in different socio-economic backgrounds is a collection of 22 short stories penned by author and soft skills consultant Sesh Damerla in Darpan.
Born in an affluent family, away from gender bias and curbed freedom, Sesh grew up confident and independent. But when she was married at 19 to an army officer, she lost her stability. However, from her constantly changing surroundings, she picked up stories. “As the wife of an army officer, I underwent a lot of struggle; but through the days, I met rural women, other wives of army officers, experienced life with my in-laws and through all this, I observed lifestyles, mindsets and expectations,” says Sesh. Being fascinated by stories wasn’t anything new. Sesh was a curious listener as a child too. “I would go to my relatives’ place during the holidays and ask them about my grandparents; and they would tell me a lot of interesting stories. I guess I was always interested in human behaviour. Those stories have resonated through the years.”
She shared a few stories with us, like how her grandmother, who was married at 11 and widowed at 16, ended up independent and strong, and would take care of the land too. “My eldest daughter, when she was 11, saw a photo of her grandmother standing next to her husband seated on a chair. She asked me ‘Why was she standing? Why couldn’t the two sit together?’ Her observations stayed with me.”
All the characters she came across through personal experiences and stories evolved in the recess of her mind. Finally, these stories were penned and Darpan was released. “My stories attempt to reflect a majority of women for whom transition has been an upward movement — from being a doormat to becoming the head of the house or making decisions along with the man. Darpan represents different situations, moods that a woman faces and how she ends up handling them as an individual or as a couple.”
She adds that whatever socio-economic background a woman may be from, she has her own set of struggles? “A lot of women do not have any freedom or grow up in liberal households. But Indian women are making their transition in their own ways. They are looking to become balancers and not turn aggressive. It is a struggle, but you need to keep fighting — and they are,” she explains.
To know more about Sesh and Darpan: Stories of Indian Women in Transition, visit seshdamerla.com