First Published in: 2016
Author: Twinkle Khanna
First story is about Lakshmi Prasad who finds a unique way for women to preserve their individuality, independence and dignity which led her village to celebrate the birth of every girl born. It is so clever that the author chose the name ‘Lakshmi’ but you will understand why when you read the book.
Second story is so about a girl who due to her ‘marriageable age’ is always being pressurized by her parents to get married. Although under their pressure she agrees and even gets married but finds out the husband is not of sound mind but as usual she is asked to go back and adjust. She struggles to break free but she sure does find peace at last.
Third story is about a widow whose only company is her sister with whom she enjoys her evenings getting into different hobby classes, yoga, playing cards and at night retires to her empty house. She finds a new friend in the Yoga teacher who himself is in a long but unhappy marriage and their friendship blossoms into a beautiful relationship of company, warmth and unsaid mutual understanding.
Forth story is about a poor but loving and dexterous husband who wants his wife to not use unhygienic cloth during periods but clean sanitary pads. When he goes to purchase one for his wife as a surprise, he is baffled by the high cost and decides to study it and build one himself. This invites lot of ridicule to him and his family as such a thing is still not spoken about very openly in our society and on top of it a man roaming around wearing a pad to test it out was abhorred.
Before reading this book, I had assumed that it will be a sort of folklore of a man Lakshmi Prasad who must have done something unique during his time and likewise. I was right to a certain extent since the book begins with Lakshmi Prasad’s intelligent understanding and unique handling of a social issue but Lakshmi Prasad here is a young girl and this book doesn’t just revolve around that Lakshmi Prasad but is a collection of different characters and their individual stories.
All stories are related to the social issues that are prevalent in Indian society and which mainly affect women. I observed that it begins with story of a young girl, has a story of a woman in the ‘marriageable age’ (pun intended) and another story of an older woman – all of them in their own way trying to break free from the shackles of ‘norms’ of Indian society.
The last and the longest one in the book is based on a real-life story and is very inspirational. It is also female centric in the terms of the topic to which it relates i.e. a man trying to build low cost sanitary pads for rural women but it shows the un-defeating determination of a man working for a cause which is still a taboo in this country. How difficult it must have been for him being a man to work on this since no women in his family or village would talk about it and instead berated him to bring shame to the family. In fact, this last story is being made into a movie #Padman.
Twinkle Khanna, the author is very witty as usual. The way each individual story has been put together is very relatable – either you will know someone struggling with one of the issues or quite probably you yourself must have gone through at least 1 of these. These are things which we see happening around but tend to not talk about but the author so cleverly gets the story around all these social issues that they leave a mark on the reader’s mind and next time before judging someone for something or we might try to think from a different perspective.