The gang rape of Nirbhaya in December 2012 shook the moral conscience of the country. It also prompted Shilpa Menon from Mauritius to pen her anguish over this issue in a book, Scars do heal.
The book dwells on how a rape survivor can lead a normal life even after such a trauma. “I was shaken up as it’s a barbaric crime. I wanted to do something about it,” she says.
As people relate more to personal stories, Shilpa talked to rape survivors to understand their scars.
“Fast-track courts and legal amendments were some of the changes we saw in India but how many more Nirbhayas would the country lose to bring out a social reform? I can’t change the law. However, I wanted to do my part with words,” says the author with a masters degree in chemical engineering.
During her interaction with rape survivors, Shilpa found they were living with a trauma that is hard to explain. “We cannot fathom what they feel after a sexual assault. A small trigger can take them back to square one and we need to understand that before we offer assistance,” she explains.
Her novel deals with the life of Sonal Kapoor, a woman with a difficult past. The protagonist meets Dr Ryan Percy, a man with ‘baggage’ of his own. “Everyone needs love and the book will be a self-help book on how to give and accept love,” she shares.
The purpose of the book is two-fold. “Firstly, I wanted to create awareness about what survivors face after sexual assault — from physical changes to mental trauma. Secondly, I wanted to convey a powerful message that there is hope even if the survivor feels everything is lost.”
Writing her first book on a sensitive subject, Shilpa says the journey has changed her life.
“Only my husband knew that I was penning a book and he was extremely supportive. I initially wrote a few chapters and showed it to my buddies, and they encouraged me to get it published,” she says.
“I have always worked closely for social causes and bringing it out through writing is satisfying.”
Shilpa, a fan of author Jojo Moyes says, “She is an inspiration and I would like to do some work like her.” Her next book is on orphans and she is doing research on the subject.
How many more Nirbhayas, the country would lose to bring about a social reform. I can’t change the law. However, I wanted to do my part with words. We cannot fathom what they feel after a sexual assault. A small trigger or a nightmare can take them back to square one and we need to understand them before offering assistance
—Shilpa Menon, writer and author of Scars do heal