Disobedient Girls is an anthology of poems and short stories by various poets and authors that attempt to celebrate all the fearless, brave, and outspoken women who refuse to obey unfair practices or comply with such demands.
There are 5 poems and 12 short stories all revolving around the theme of disobedience amongst women and girls.
My favourite poems are the Wildflowers, and Yes, I am Her.
In ‘Wildflowers‘ the poet, Dr. Sai Surve Rane, compares girls and mimosa pudica, commonly known as touch me not. Quoting my favourite lines from this poem –
“There is no riddance from this breed
Call them wonder or simply a weed
Touch them not then,
Let them be”
‘Yes, I am Her’ by Megha Mazumdar is an English translation of Shubho Dasgupta’s Ami Shei Meye. It is a dense poem carved out of a numbing pain endured by years of patriarchal dominance.
It is I,
You see her every day, lingering in buses and trains,
Her saree, the bindi on her forhead, her earrings hanging loose, her feet you see her everyday
And, all the other parts of her you dream about
In those dreams, you get her the way you want to
I am her.
The short stories offer a variety in terms of genre, era and locales, and yet, they all convey the theme of disobedience in a fitting manner.
‘Abbakka’ by Ashvani Sachdev is a historical fiction narrating the story of Rani Abbakka Chowta, the 1st queen of Ullal and the first Indian freedom fighter. The brave queen became the ruler at the tender age of 18 and bravely fought the Portuguese. (4/5 stars)
“It will be enough that we stand together shoulder to shoulder and fight… winning and losing is not so important. But giving up without a fight is certainly disgraceful.”
‘Nirvana’ by Haimanti Bagchi has three ants as their protagonists who rebel against societal norms and in the process discover the real vigour of life–service to self. (3.5/5 stars)
“If the queen of the tribe is not free enough to take her own decisions, no one in this tribe would ever respect the decisions of the females in their family.”
In ‘Her Hidden Dreams’ the author Harshita Nanda takes the readers to Rajasthan, to the household of Bhanwari Devi who rules her household. This is the story of 3 generations of women with Gauri, the daughter-in-law as the main protagonist. An inspiring story showing the extent to which a woman would go for the sake of her children. (3.25/ 5 stars)
“We need the money to survive. You don’t want me to remove the ghunghat? Fine! I will do the job with the ghunghat. But I will do it!”
Book Bride is a story set in Pakistan written by yours truly. Loosely inspired by an evil real-life practice prevalent in the Sindh district, it is an inspiring story of a young girl Nadya. (Not rating this story)
“I have already broken Abba’s rule. A police station is a dreadful place to be in, especially for a girl, Abba always says. He despises policemen with all his being.”
‘Green Tea and Chocolate Chip Cookies’ by Gayathri Sampath is a sweet yet unlikely take on loss, love, and happy beginnings. Revolving around two characters, Sanju and Jo, the story has a very kintsugi feel to it. (2.5/5 stars)
“After some initial moments of weakness, Jo had resolved that she was not going to be a victim anymore. Furthermore, she did not intend to let Sanju become one either.”
In Prachi Pati’s ‘Masked Love’ a grandmother and her granddaughter come closer in the pandemic. I felt the overall theme of dissidence is quite subtle and does not come out strongly. (2.75/5 stars)
“All these years of rebelling against the community to not have children, and here she was, mothering an eighty-year-old.”
Lalitha Ram’s Meaningful Moments is a story of three friends spending a day away from their families, reminiscing over the days gone by and revealing the challenges they are facing. (2.5/5)
“They do now. Success comes with sweet benefits. Just kidding. I think they adjusted themselves to my wandering spirit and adventures.”
Rashmi Agrawal’s Not All Avengers Slice Throats is one of my favourites from this collection. It brings to life a woman who lives life by her own rules. Apart from being the perfect fit theme-wise, this story rates high on vocabulary, pace, and narration. (4.25/5 stars)
“I drink because I like it, just like you do. I kissed men only when I was dating them.” Why am I even justifying my choices?
‘The Myth of the Shrew’ by Sonia Dogra is a clever spin-off of Shakespeare’s popular comedy, The Taming of the Shrew. Well-written and enjoyable, with perfect theme adherence, this is my other personal favourite story in this anthology. (4.25/5 stars)
“I could have slouched behind Bianca and quietly accepted the rules they made. But my stiff neck refused to bow down in subservience, making me the bad-mouthed, evil-tempered, disobedient daughter of Baptista, the unconventional muse of Shakespeare.”
Taniya Roy’s The Sacrifice set amidst the Durga Puja celebrations is an emotional story of a girl who believes dissent is her second nature. (3.5)
“The honour belonged to the firstborn males in our family. It was inherited at birth like one’s name and faith. I am not sure if the womenfolk were ever considered.”
An Act of Will by Dr. Preetha Vasan is a gut-wrenching story of Sri Lankan Tamils during the uprising of LTTE. Narrated in a dual timeline with a gripping vocabulary, it well-written and impactful. (4/5)
“It must be because on any other ordinary day Amma would have never sanctioned Tamilini’s deepest desire: to join the boys’ camp and fight, as the true daughter of her homeland, for its liberation.”
‘Umusambi: A War,’ by Paridhi Singh takes us to a small village, Umusambi, in Rwanda. A longer story with in-depth emotions, real settings and detailed character sketches, coupled with a marvellous vocabulary and narration make this an engrossing read. I did not expect the story to end in the manner it did, and it threw me off-balance. (4.25/5)
“Zeila remembered the village elders telling them that peace would follow once the war was over. There was no sight of it in what she now stood silently witnessing.”
To quote Snigdha Basu, the editor, “a collective effort of challenging and disobeying the limiting thought structures can put a wheel in motion. May this anthology serve as a written record of our strife for a change.”
Disobedient Girls is a well-curated collection of brave and inspiring stories.
Wordsopedia Rating 3.75/5
|Title: Disobedient Girls||Author: Various|
|Publisher: Tell Me your Story||Publication date: April 18 2022|
|Genre: Fiction – Anthology||Format: Kindle|
|ASIN: B09Y8DVNP9||No. of Pages: 165|
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This sounds like a great book.
Thank you. Please do check it out.