Criminal Victims

The earth-eating Muggi, groomed by her brother-in-law, cons fourteen men into marrying her and runs off with their money, but falls in love with the fifteenth and eagerly awaits the day she will be released from prison so that she can return to him. The intimidating Vaishnavi pushes a buffalo, her cruel mother-in-law and husband over the edge of a ravine and spends the rest of her life punishing herself, wandering from place to place, homeless and penniless. These and other remarkable stories form this collection of sketches of ordinary women with extraordinary pasts. Compassionate without ever straying into sentimentality, Aparadhini:Women without men, Shivani's histories of the formidable women whose lives she chronicled strikes a chord in our hearts even today, forty years after they were first written. A few of her short stories, inspired by these women, also form part of this brilliant translation from the Hindi by her daughter Ira Pande.

These are tales often  read in newaspapers,  heard of or seen on the big or small screen,  stories of women, downtrodden and ill treated by life, society and almost everyone around while she remains a mute spectator of her own fate. What makes Aparadhini so different is that these are tales of  courage and determination.  Aparadhini is  a collection of short stories about women who dared, dared to take their fate into their hands, beat the living hell out of it and toss it in the corner of their bedrooms, left to ponder upon its mistakes and thereby change itself. Each story is about a woman who was not satisfied with the way the world saw not just her, but her entire kind. What makes them all the more special is that these women do not realise that by their actions, they make  a huge difference to the gaze that womankind is subjected to! The fact that these women break all boundaries of ‘womanhood’ associated with them by the society and do it effortlessly is an act of subversion. The woman who marries men at will and lives the life of a vagabond (reminding the reader of the first radical woman in literature, Chaucer’s Wife of Bath), the woman who pushes her cruel mother in law and spineless husband down a ravine to live the life that she wanted.... It is hard to believe that such a book was written more than four decades ago. Shivani’s tales of these exceptionally strong ordinary women is a book that will speak to contemporary  readers in this translation by her daughter Ira Pande.

In our ILT and Womens Studies sections, in hardcover, 224 pages, Rs 250, ISBN 9789350290378