A Calendar too Crowded by Sagarika Chakraborty
There is a calendar full of days to celebrate women. Or to bring the focus back to issues related to women. Despite them, the dilemmas that a woman goes through, the discriminations that she faces both at home and outside and the traumas she goes through for being a woman, the expectations that she has to deal with at her marital home and at workplace remain a matter of concern. Until the time enough women are not enabled enough to help themselves. Or take charge of their lives, these issues need to be brought forward in public life regularly. So that we do not lose sight of them. And always remember to do something about them in our own limited capacities. A Calendar too Crowded author has made a very brave attempt to bring out the voices of women dealing with all these situations.
Voices that make you aware of what is going inside them. Voices that share themselves with you and would remain with you long after you have finished reading the book.
What I appreciated the most about this book A Calendar too Crowded is young author’s sensitivity to bring out these voices. The attention to little details that make the voices so authentic. While a lot of voices may have the grounding in her own experience, but there are voices where she has drawn from the experiences of others. Or from what she knows through the mind rather than the heart. She captures the emotional bonds that women share with their families very beautifully. And the truth as it exists today is that no matter how you have known the woman, her primary focus still largely remains her family. When she goes out to conquer the world in her profession, she still has to worry about feeding nutritious food to her kid. Or taking care of an ailing elder in the family.
In fact, at this point in time, women are going through a transition in their roles. Which in turn is creating dilemmas for them. They are expecting excellence from themselves at work. While not faltering even a wee bit in their expected domestic roles. They kill themselves while trying to get a perfect balance.
22 voices take you through their journey. Through a date marked on the calendar that may serve as a reminder. Voices talk about abortion of the female fetus, victims of eve teasing, plight of widows, the psychology of adopted girls. Trafficking and loss of identity, children of prostitutes, AIDS patients. Two sides of the dowry story as issues. And remind us that we all need to be a part of the solution. It deals with personal issues of women dealing with past relationships, with the lost motherland, with the lost parents or grandparents. Of managing work-life balance especially during the tender duration of pregnancy and infant care. An illusion of equality, dealing with public perception and societal norms.
Some voices raise grave issues while others are more of dilemmas. But I like the fact that a ray of hope always shines through these voices. You do not get a gloomy feeling after you have finished reading. But you feel more aware of what the voice was telling you. The stories are bound to remind you of some of your own situations or the situations that you have seen women around dealing with.
Good writers always bring out the greed in me, and I want more from them. So here is a list of issues, that probably not even have a day marked for them on a calendar. And I wanted to hear the voices around them in the next edition of the book. Gender discrimination at home – sons being given preferential treatment at homes over daughters. Gender discrimination at work – having to work harder to get the same. Discrimination based on skin color. Growing up with a feeling that the home around you will not belong to you forever once you marry. Being sidelined for being the only women in a group of men, or having to deal with men not ready for an equal world.
Now, any thinking woman would love these, A Calendar too Crowded stories written with immense sensitivity. But my sincere hope is that men read it. And become more sensitive towards women around them. Maybe prepare themselves for an equal world. Sagarika is a definitely an author to look out for, for she dares to write about a topic which is not essentially commercial in this day and age when most authors are writing with an agenda in mind.