Author: Khushwant Singh
Published: 7 June 2018
Genre : Non fiction, Indian Culture, Biography
“A woman’s purity doesn’t lie in her vagina, but in her heart”.
During a business or a research meeting the author comes across a gynaecologist Dr. Raghunandini Mehta, who wanted his services to take her business to next level, and to organise the system in her clinic. As he demands complete honesty from his clients, he asks her about her business which turns out to be an eye opener not only for him but also for the readers. She says that her main business involves repairing hymen and it is indeed a booming business because nowadays many young women are opting for hymen repair surgeries. To explain further the doctor goes on narrating various cases of her patients who were either victims of sexual assault and wanted to forget the trauma, or some young women who made mistakes sleeping with the wrong guy and wanted to rectify it by having a clean slate.
We get to learn several incidents narrated by the doctor, in which young women are brutally assaulted, but to get on with their lives they need the hymen repair surgery so that they can marry a “sophisticated Indian male”. In a society where virginity is the proof of a woman’s purity and loyal heart, a girl can only obtain such status or marry a suitable guy only if she bleeds on her first night even if you are not naturally going to bleed.
This book is really an eye opener of what is actually wrong with Indian society. It certainly shakes you to your core and makes you wonder is this what Indian women are meant for? Becoming a symbol for purity if she is a virgin and a slut and unsuitable if she is not, even if she is raped and tortured, which is not her fault but for some hypocrites it is her fault.
More than that I was perplexed by the women in these stories. I mean they go through trauma and torture and rape, effects of which will be on their minds possibly forever, and then they want to forget it all happened and repair their hymen as if just a surgery can solve everything. May be it can provide temporary solution but in their hearts they know what battles they have fought and they want to cover their fortitude with shame of what happened to them and settle down for a chauvinist male who probably is never going to respect them for their endurance.
Male in our Indian society have relished in the magnanimous significance we place on them by prioritising them on every step of the way in every Indian household, and how trivial we think the role of a girl is compared to a man. A girl is conditioned all her life to be a perfect marriage material and very first requirement is that she must be a virgin. And even if she has a passing affair she is branded as a slut and if she is not a virgin she is branded as a whore. Can we change such principles in our Indian society? No we cannot. Such a change is still light years away. So what can a girl do, opt for hymen repair or stand proud for what she has been through, rape or a bad relationship. I think mistakes and bad experiences are what make us human and gives us courage to fight our next battles with more strength and confidence. And if the person you are marrying cannot accept you for what you are and what you have been through, then maybe he doesn’t deserve you. We should marry only for love or not at all. Every girl deserves a chance at love and happiness, but rectifying our mistakes and erasing our experiences isn’t the answer.
A life of an Indian girl is never easy. She is always at war with her parents and society. We should be proud of what we are and never give up. At least not for such sexist Indian society.
What I liked: The author has brought forward a very vindictive face of the Indian society which should not be ignored for the future of the girls depends on it
What I disliked: The only thing was that I was disgusted by the incidents and its really shocking to read. But i would categorize it as necessary evil.
About the Author:
Khushwant Singh, born on 2 February 1915 in Hadali, British India, now a part of Punjab, Pakistan, was a prominent Indian novelist and journalist. Singh’s weekly column, “With Malice towards One and All”, carried by several Indian newspapers, was among the most widely-read columns in the country. An important post-colonial novelist writing in English, Singh is best known for his trenchant secularism, his humor, and an abiding love of poetry. His comparisons of social and behavioral characteristics of Westerners and Indians are laced with acid wit.