Author: Balli Kaur Jaswal
The story is based in the heart of London at the hub of Indian Punjabi society - Southhall. These Punjabis left the country but the country never left them. They moved in 70s or 80s with the Khalistan movement but created a mini India there. While India moves ahead they are still stuck in the India of 70s. The same old traditions, boundaries, taboos and burdens.
Erotica and widows - wasn't I only surprised to see this in the same sentence, it is the title of this book. This story makes a strong statement on feminism voicing the dreams and issues of the neglected class of women - The widows who have no life without their husbands. In olden days there was Sati and now it's anonymity and speechlessness. You have no say but to follow the rules laid by men in a patriarchal society.
It's distressing that there are even dressing rules for a widow - a plain white suits, no make up, covered heads and bent backs. As if the colour goes out if your life without your husband. What is the definition of white here - is it about a pure soul, a spotless character or a colourless life? In short it's all about a uniform like a prisoner for no crime of their own. All her life a women is trained to be a wife and when the husband dies she is made to live an empty life. This story takes a big leap and talks about the fantasies - and I must elaborate the sexual fantasies of these women. There are a lot of overrated things in this world - from fidelity to sex, but what is under rated is a women's sexuality. She is taught from the beginning that she is a factory to reproduce and sex is the process of it. She is not supposed to enjoy it or even know about it. For years she is kept under wraps like a pearl and then on her wedding night she is thrown in with a stranger like a goat in a lion's cage. God forbid she enjoys it, in that case she will be termed a whore.
But what Bali does excellently well is she serves this strong statement in a chiclit fashion so it can easily reach out to all women. She doesn't preach, she tells a story or may I say multiple stories of various women and their lives. The literary classes turn into creative writing and the stories became a fad, reaching out to more and more women and starting a movement. A slap on the face of the so called guardians of the society which refuse a women to express her sensuality but a man gets to become a proud fornicator.
When I read such books I feel the times are changing and for good, but then I wonder how long will it take to reach the equal? How much more times to undo the wrongs? How much more time to get a woman her due? How much time men will need to change? How much time to reach a society which is fair? This book is just a small step, but a big leap for mankind! Read it for the titilating stories and the strong message. Hopefully a time shall come that there are no widows but just some single women looking for love once again!