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  • Daring to Divorce

    A CLOSE PERSON has been toying with the idea of a divorce for over two years. She has left her husband several times. The most recent attempt seems the most likely to result in divorce—she talked to her husband seriously, met with a lawyer and got all the gory details of how the law stipulates that a one-year ‘reconciliation period’ is necessary before granting a divorce. The massive family disapproval, nay downright prohibition via obsessive calls, pleas and commands, does not seem to have dented her resolve. Continue reading

    Girl Friday at the University

    Meena Kandasamy

    She wanders like a flimsy ghost
    in the two-hundred-year-old
    university where love thrives
    in large abandoned third-floor
    classrooms, monkeys shag on
    corridors, restless gossip piles up
    like dirty dishes in the canteen,
    and young women learn some
    tough lessons.
    Continue reading

    Of Need and Exploitation: Domestic Workers in Karnataka

    ‘I BEGAN WORKING when I was ten. I used to look after a child for which I was paid ten rupees a month. Today I am almost forty and I continue to work as a domestic maid. The difference is that my bones ache and I do not have the same energy. This is what happens to most of us who do domestic work. This job has no PF or ESI or anything like that. We work at others’ houses our entire lives and are left with nothing at the end,’ Maariyamma is angry but she continues to chop the double beans with great ease. Continue reading

    Modi, Taslima and the Dangers of Identity Politics

    WHEN NARENDRA MODI invited Taslima to live safely in Gujarat last month, it raised many eyebrows. It does seem hilarious that a staunch Hindutva leader like Modi could talk about the safety of a Muslim Woman. After all the engineering of mass killings and rapes and daily terrorising of Muslim women in Gujarat, here was Modi inviting Taslima to live there! Suddenly her criticism of Islamic fundamentalism and the Sangh’s outright hatred for Muslims converged in a ludicrous moment. But are these not very different stances that emerge from two very disparate notions of identity? Continue reading

    Brown Woman Saving

    THE YEAR WAS 2004. I don’t quite remember what part of it, but since I don’t recall more than one layer of clothing on me, it must have been summer. India was on small-town America’s radar with Nisha Sharma appearing on Oprah, a heroine after sending her almost-husband to jail practically at the altar/mandap. And being the only Indian woman at my organization, the comparisons were spontaneous.
    “Don’t go home,” my Supervisor advised, all compassion and sweetness after grinding my nose into the ground with 14-hour workdays. “They might set you on fire too.” Continue reading