Tuesday, April 12, 2016

#324 : Sense & Sensibility - Of Abuse & Struggles

The Event (@ Odyssey, Adayar, 10th April 2016)

The Chennai Bloggers Club in partnership with Odyssey organized a discussion on Domestic Abuse title "Sense and Sensibility".  Writer Sharadha Vijay moderated a Q&A session with writer Sujata Rajpal. Writer Sujata Rajpal's maiden book, The other end of the corridor  is the story of a woman being abused by her husband but eventually gains her strength to bounce back.

Various aspects and reasons of domestic abuse were discussed critically in parallel comparison to the character- Leela's experience from the book. The host, Sharadha adeptly handled the discussion, prompting writer Sujata to share her experience in researching for this book. Being an abuse survivor herself, Sharadha  also contributed immensely in keeping the discussion alive and realistic. The open house QA saw a lot of people expressing their thoughts, some of which left me deliberating.

My Take on the topic - Of Abuse & Struggle

First off, I find the classification of abuse pointless - Sexual abuse, Emotional abuse, Domestic Abuse, Substance Abuse, Physical Abuse, so on and so forth. At the end of the day it's abuse and that is what matters the most. It is simply not justified to abuse a fellow human being or an animal or self for that matter, no matter how bad the circumstance might be.

Second, it is a common misconception or a myth that women folk are only majorly subjected to abuse. Men are too. It's just that they aren't as vocal about it as the women are. Of course, I can almost hear people violently disagreeing with me that women aren't vocal about it either, but hey, it's a relative comparison.

In a society such as ours, it is a taboo to even talk openly about things like abuse. Yes, it is fast changing, but are we witnessing fruitful results? Do we have a support mechanism in place where men and women won't be judged for their confessions? Do we have lean in communities like the West does? We should probably. I sincerely hope we do so in the near future. After all, we have come a long way to even talk about abuse now haven't we?

I'm not really going to delve into the finer points of the topic. That discussion is simply endless and gives me new perspective every time I am a part of any discussion on this topic. However, I have become weary of romanticizing abuse. During the discussion on Sunday, a friend of mine - Kavipriya (a writer) touched upon one such angle. Her question verbatim - "Indian girl - Bad husband - Divorce - achieve something huge // I read almost 25 Indian woman author books endorsing this storyline. Either she starts a cup cake business or turns a VJ or a RJ or a teacher or indulges in social services.

These books have taught me not to stand one slap from my husband, not to wait if he seems to be interested in other woman. Don't be patient, just walk away.

There are woman who made it huge without having to go through a bad phase, why is it weighed down? Maybe, she would have chosen not to market her bad phase to make money of her business"
I completely agree with her. There are plenty of stories around - fiction and non-fiction alike which simply romanticize struggle. In fact, in pages like Humans of Mumbai, Humans of India, I find more stories of struggle and abuse. These incidents in turn seem to inspire fiction writers who simply end up writing a story where a girl is abused and she bounces back to being successful.

At the risk of sounds chauvinistic, I ask, what of men who are abused? What of other women who are successful but really didn't go through the type of abuse portrayed in a work of fiction? What of men and women who are the backbone of the success of their partners? Does success have to be attained after a tryst with abuse? Isn't the very definition of success relative? Some people choose to project the difficult road to success while some would prefer to keep it shut. It's as simple as that.

It is indeed a valid argument to state that stories of fiction should not be looked upon as a benchmark of idealism. I disagree. A work of fiction stems from the imagination of an individual. The imagination of any individual is fed by whatever 'affects' the person in his/her real life. By 'affecting' I mean, incidents which are capable of influencing one's thought process. A simple example to elaborate this - Being a book reviewer, I found a sudden spurt of book featuring protagonists who were raped after the Nirbhaya incident happened. Where were those stories before that incident? Yes, they were works of fiction and there were many reported incidents of rape weren't they?

By projecting struggle as a sure-shot way to success changes the very definition of success and hard-work. Immaterial of the the gender, abuse is simply not the solution for express feeling nor it is the path to success. Patience is a virtue which needs to be cultivated. If we were to break off a relationship, be it a romantic one or of a friendship at the drop of a hat, the world would simply be filled with people carrying tonnes of emotional baggage.

Enough has been said, what are you going to do about it you ask? I am a woman and I have gone through enough emotional abuse to write a goddamn book. I promise not to pen it down and thereby romanticizing it out of the respect for people who saw me through it-Doesn't mean I had an incredible support system or I've reached pinnacle of success - it simply means I am willing to help fellow humans but not delve into my story!


  1. Though I agree with all you have said here (about men also facing abuse), there are instances where a piece of fiction helps. It's not about just romanticising the success of the person, it's also about giving "hope". Showing the abused person that there's a way out. Or that's how I perceive it.
    As for writing a story, a conflict is a must to make it an interesting read. So, this could be termed as such. Even with such novels, some touch your heart, some don't. I liked both Sujata Rajpal's and Ritu Lalit's (http://www.amazon.in/Wrong-Right-Reasons-Ritu-Lalit/dp/938370103X) books on similar subjects. While Rajpal's book disturbs you, Lalit's make you laugh throughout even as you root for the heroine.

  2. Agreed! A conflict is needed! My point is it shouldn't be overdone. As in for people abused it would be a motivator. For others who are blessed we shouldn't go about looking down and giving a picture that an abuse would make you successful! Should read Ritu Lalit's book then! 👍🏻

  3. I can't but agree with what you say. I understand what you mean. And yeah, Ritu Lalit's book is worth a read :)

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