Friday, June 17, 2016

A Malady called Domestic Abuse

The Orlando shooter Omar Mateen was a certified wife beater. While it is still being debated if homophobia or Islamic leanings was his primary motive behind carrying out the heinous carnage, his tendency towards domestic violence is certainly a precursor of the greater violence that he was capable of. However, like all good decent women do, his former wife chose to keep quite about it. That is till he opened fire in a nightclub killing 50 people.

Image courtesy : Getty Images

Remarkably, the incident comes at a time when Paralympian Oscar Pistorius is undergoing trial for the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, who was ironically as campaigner against domestic abuse. He had been accused of violence by a former girlfriend and two weeks before the murder, Steenkamp had messaged the former saying that she was "scared" of him. His plea of 'culpable homicide' was changed to murder given his past record.

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But even as Pistorius pleads to living in mortal fear of intruders, and walks the courtroom on his stumps to reinforce his vulnerability, we need to rethink if domestic violence is only about physical violence. Does the perpetrator need to have a powerful physique do harm ? What about the psychological aspect of it ?

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Domestic violence is a sad truth. Most of us know a near and dear one who has been touched by it. While we often refuse to acknowledge that it happened in the first place and women are even taught to believe that it is the retribution for something which they did ( or did not do ), these two random and seemingly incidents highlight the dangers of domestic violence. While every wife-beater might not morph into a terrorist or a murderer, we need to be very afraid of these deceased minds.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Book Review : Our Impossible Love ( Durjoy Dutta )

Buy online HERE.

This one should have been labelled 'Our Inscrutable Love'. Or still better 'Our Improbable Story'. For, it is the kind of story that lacks conviction. In some ways, it is rather similar to a masala potboiler Hindi movie but sadly, it trivializes issues like rape and gay rights. Plus the love story between a student and a counselor (deemed as a failure by his own parents) is hardly happening. If anything, it is just too superficial except for a few stray chapters when the author makes you cry and laugh out simultaneously. Not because it is funny but just coz it is so cliched.

Why did I pick this one ?? Now, for the longest time I had been reading mostly mythology written by Indian authors, fiction by Jeffery Archer and heavy philosophical stuff by Murakami/Orhan Pamuk etc. Wanted something lighthearted for a change and this one came highly recommended. Just don't ask me who did it ! Plus I got it on Kindle when there was a good offer .So, now I can happily delete it as I am done. I hate to give away by books even when they are real crappy and so I have a shelf space issue at home. Just the reason why I have promised myself that I every time I buy a book, the next one will have to be an Kindle version.

Getting back to the story, the female lead Aisha is a seventeen year old who is five years late into getting her periods. She is obsessed about it. And when it does come, she creates a scene. Well, that is what the author would like us to believe. Sounds incredible , doesn't it ! But the story gets even more incredible as we are told that the mother suffers from a kidney disease which has left the family under financial strain and the father has to take up whatever transfers comes his way to make some extra money.

The male lead Danish starts out as a loser cannot even garner enough marks to pass his exams. And yet his brother is an IIT genius who has got the startup guys queuing up at the doorstep. Plus, he is real lucky with the girls.

And somewhere in between we are introduced to Sarthak, Aisha's brother who prefers to keep to himself. We later get to know that he is gay and has been planning secretly to get away to Poland just because they gays marriages are acceptable there.

But the saddest part of the book is when Aisha is raped on a date and the manner in which Sarthak gets bullied just because he is gay. While the characters in this book are from a posh Delhi school, the real issue that the author has tried to deal with is 'Campus rape'. There has been tremendous debate on this issue and as to what constitutes to consent of the girl. One of the lines uttered by Vibhor (the accused guy) rightly exposes the attitude of the perpetrators. "Usually girls are so drunk after just one drink", he says and this often used as a excuse for committing the crime.

But the second half of the book in which Danish helps Aisha to cope with the situation and leads her back to a normal life is well written and commendable. Plus the way in which Ankit, Danish's brother, pitches in is quite sweet. The idea of developing an App to help people help others is a good one though not very practical.

This book works in parts and I have a lingering doubt that Durjoy Dutta started writing this one with something good in mind. But the final outcome lacks the desired sensitivity and sensationalizes trivial stuff. Despite all his efforts, one would still accuse him of using sex to sell the book.

Would I recommend it ? Well, he is already quite popular with the youngsters given that his target audience seems to be in the age bracket of 16 to 25. Maybe an overdose of sex works just right for them.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Book Review : Norwegian Wood ( Haruki Murakami )

Norwegian Wood is Murakami's most normal book till date and his most iconic work too !! With a title inspired by the Beatles hit by the same name, it is solely responsible for his legendary status in the Western world. A love story where most of the characters are closely linked by death, it is devoid of a fairy tale ending. But what else can one expect when you have an mad genius like Murakami takes a shot at penning down romance .

The protagonist Toru lives a world of anonymity to escape his past. But the past has a way of catching up with one and he bumps into someone from his past. Naoko is the childhood sweetheart of his dead friend Kizuki. He falls in love with her and from thereon starts his foray into a world of despair.

The book delves into adolescent sexuality, masturbation, dormitory life, student politics and other such day to day issues that most youngsters have to deal with. But the high point of the book is a normal character, Midori. An absolute delight, the girl is almost like a ray of sunshine on a dark and gloomy day. Despite the problems that plague her family, she carries on living with a braveness that belies her tender age. When she falls in love with Toru, she is already in a relationship but cannot stop herself from being drawn to him. She loves him unconditionally and yet she does not let herself be treated as the doormat. Everything that she does makes it quite apparent that she is both human and superhuman at the same time.

Another lovable character is the woman Reiko who shares a room with Noako at the sanatorium. Her story is something that should be shared with every kid's parents. A child prodigy who has her special powers taken away from her suddenly, she describes her state in these moving lines."No more applause, no one would make a big fuss over me, no one would tell me how wonderful I was."

Overall, it is a wonderful book and arguably most enjoyable ( I think I will tie this one with Kakfa On The Shore ) among all of Murakami's works. Yet, if you used to his dark and oppressive volumes, it may actually comes across as a little too lighthearted. But one that cannot be deemed superficial by any yardstick.

Highly recommended !!