It was the last 08th of March, when I took the privilege of thanking the ten men in any woman’s life (read: ‘Ten Men To Be Thanked On Women’s Day!’). The idea was to thank the ten men who make our lives beautiful yet are not usually thanked much for the sacrifices they make for the well-being of the entire family, and especially for making we feel special every other day.
This year, on International Women’s Day, we were asked by my dear friend, who administers the Society of English Literature on Facebook, to talk about the literary women in any manner we could. So, I came up with this idea of introducing to the world the women from literature I grew up reading and getting inspired by. These are the women who truly made a difference to my ability of contemplating at every stage of my life.
You know you had a wonderful childhood when you grew up reading folk/fairy-tales, Archies, Richi Rich, Hardy Boys, Alfred Hitchcock and The Three Investigators, Robin Hood, and then Nancy Drew! The teenage girl detective, who was first brought to the world by her creator Edward Stratemeyer, always attracted me for her exceptional intelligence and irresistible charm.
This beauty with the brains (with blonde hair on the top of it 🙂 ) was, and still is, my favourite for her resilience towards solving mysteries like no other girl of her age would do [How could you expect a sixteen year old to have the courage of risking her friends’ and love Ned’s and her life only to solve a mysterious case?!]. This almost-a-super girl runs her home, studies psychology at a high school, and solves mysteries during vacations. The pristine, amazingly talented girl is one of the most beautiful fictional characters I have always loved reading. Not to mention, I had a crush on Ned too 😉 .
Yajnaseni: The Story of Draupadi by Pratibha Ray was my first Hindi novel and that too at the age of thirteen! Despite my elder sister yelling at me all the time about the Board Exam’s pressure, I read this book when she would not be around [if you are cheating someone for reading a book like Yajnaseni, it’s worth not being scrupulous 🙂 ]. The story of Krishna (read the Hindi Krishna), Yagyaseni, Drupad Nandini, Panchali, or whatever name you wish to address her with, is one of the most beautiful yet heart wrenching narration. The novel is the writer’s version of one of the Hindu epics Mahabharata in the perspective of the female protagonist Draupadi. Her surrenderance to all the men in her life including her father, the five husbands, and Krishna—her most beloved sakha (friend) is irrefutable.
No matter if Draupadi was a real or fictional character; I have admired her for the strength that most of the other mythological heroines lacked. She is prominent, influential, expressive (she expresses her heart and soul to a male friend without an iota of reluctance), and sharp and intellectual. She carries her pride on her sleeves and speaks her mind without fear of the patriarchal society. She vows vengeance when she is humiliated and yet she is sacrificing and solicitous. She is devoted to Lord Krishna up to the bordering of love and she is most truly in love with Arjuna, yet she is forced into a polygamous marriage. Just imagine, what could be more beautiful than a heart that is shattered and hitherto believes in love!
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, the heart-warming love story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy is every die-hard romantic’s all-time favourite! Kein Wunder 🙂 …
This classic tale of love, separations, and love eventually is too satisfying to resist reading, if not thrice, at least once in a lifetime. My very first novel from Jane Austen made me fall head over heels for both Elizabeth and Darcy. Elizabeth, the woman of love (for her family and friends), dexterity, lively wit, fairness, and virtue is an icon. Although she holds prejudiced impressions of Darcy initially, she doesn’t shy away from accepting her errors at the end. She doesn’t wish to marry Darcy (or, for that matter, Mr Collins) for he could give her a better economic and social status, but only for her sheer love for him.
This eleven-year old black girl from The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison is definitely not as scholarly as Nancy Drew or as gorgeous as Yajnaseni or as witty as Elizabeth. She is not strong-willed or attentive. She is rather a mystified girl who is all the time mocked by most of the other children at school and in neighbourhood. A poor black girl, who is tormented by her drunken father, raped twice, and yet doesn’t fight back. She is held together only by an innocent dream of hers—she prays days and nights for ‘blue eyes’ so that she would be as beautiful as other American children who have blonde hair, fair skin, and blue eyes!
Despite being the apathetic character this delicate child of such an age, who is made to lose her sanity by the worldly violence, becomes one of my favourites. Pecola inspired me in rather an atypical manner— her devastating story troubled me for many days after I finished reading the book. I was rather distressed by the dealing of the book especially with child molestation. I am not sure, if I could do anything in this regard, but yeah, after being in a company of one my colleague’s attempt to provide shelter to these little girls, I learn how much we need to do for these girls; I learn how only we could do something for these divine girls.
Now, yeah! I know that no write-up of mine would be complete without the mentioning of Harry Potter. Come on! I love the series like anything and for this plain reason the brightest girl at Hogwarts, Hermione Granger is going to be a part of this squadron 🙂 . This know-it-all encyclopaedic muggle-born-witch has bushy brown hair and rather large front teeth, but then surprises all at the Yule’s Ball with her dazzling attire in her fourth year! She is the best-est of friends to Ron and Harry, Neville and Luna, and Ginny. She helps both the spoiled boys (Harry and Ron) in their lessons and stands deft in need of exigency. She is extremely logical, conscientious, and tender. The bibliophile (she loves reading an enormous book only for a bit of light reading), is horrified by the cruelty shown to house-elves and thus, starts SPEW (Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare).
This highly talented young lady is certainly an inspiration for her intellect, thoughtfulness, and mischief.