Guest Post by Sunanda J Chatterjee

Guest Post by Sunanda J Chatterjee

fftThe blurb and the gorgeous cover for Sunanda J Chatterjee’s novel ‘Fighting for Tara’ attracted me to know more about it.  From the blurb it was clear the book deals with women and their lot.  It has a child bride and female foeticide as its central theme.  I thought such practices will be on the wane.  But some places still follow the practice and I shudder to think of any child of the same age being in a situation like that.

Thank you Sunanda for this wonderful response to my question.

Topics related to women are close to my heart and I love to read them. What motivated you to write about the girl child? Tell us more about the different women in the book.

Fighting for Tara was conceived while I was waiting in the dentist’s office reading an issue of National Geographic, when an article caught my attention. It was about child brides in Afghanistan, photographed with their often elderly husbands, all smiling into the camera. The idea took root. Child marriage is deplorable, but some of the brides had no idea that it was appalling. They looked happy. Continue reading

Book Blitz : Fighting for Tara by Sunanda J Chatterjee

Book Blitz : Fighting for Tara by Sunanda J Chatterjee

Sunanda J. Chatterjee
How far will a mother go to save her child?
“I have no use for a baby girl. Get rid of her tonight!” He towered over her as she cringed in fear.
But Hansa, a thirteen-year-old child-bride in rural India, refuses to remain a victim of the oppressive society where a female child is an unwanted burden. Instead of drowning her baby, Hansa escapes from her village with three-month-old Tara.
Hansa soon discovers that life as a teenage mother is fraught with danger. But a single lie opens the door to a promising opportunity far from home.
Just seven years later, Hansa finds herself fighting for Tara’s life once more, this time in an American court, with a woman she calls ‘Mother.’
Will the lie upon which Hansa built her life, defeat its own purpose? How can she succeed when no one believes the truth? 
A story of two mothers, two daughters and a fight to save a child, Fighting for Tara explores the depth of love and motherhood.
Read an excerpt of #FFT here:


The soft light of the lantern flickered, casting a dim golden glow in the tiny hut, as shadows danced on its windowless mud walls. Thirteen-year-old Hansa squatted on the floor beside a metal bucket and stared at the glimmering water, dreading the task before her. Her baby whimpered on the floor, struggling in the hand-sewn cloth blanket. Beside the door stood the terracotta urn that held the ashes of her husband.
Hansa heard the grating snores of her drunken brother-in-law Baldev, soon to be her husband, as he slept outside on the wood-framed coir cot in the moonless night. She shuddered.
Just an hour ago, Baldev had yelled at her. “I have no use for a baby girl. Get rid of her tonight!” He towered over her as she cringed in fear.
She’d begged him. “I can’t do it!”
That’s when he’d slapped her. No one had ever hit her before… not even her elderly husband.
Hansa touched her cheek, which still stung from the humiliation and fear.
She doubted her courage to extinguish the baby’s life. Squeezing her eyes shut, she took a deep breath, hoping that dawn would bring her luck.
Tomorrow morning Hansa would travel with Baldev and all the goats they could load into his bullock-cart, and leave the village forever. She would go to a distant land, become Baldev’s second wife, learn the household chores from his first wife, and bear him male heirs… Hansa shivered, apprehensive about her future.
But before her new life could begin, she and Baldev would take a detour to the river to disperse her husband’s ashes and discard her beautiful daughter’s body.
Somewhere deep in her heart, Hansa knew none of this was fair. It wasn’t fair that in a country with a rich heritage of brave queens, young girls were still forced into marriage, sometimes to men older than their grandfathers. It wasn’t fair that she’d been born to poor parents in rural Rajasthan, a state rife with archaic traditions. It wasn’t fair that she had matured early and was given to sixty-year old Gyanchand Rathore from the neighboring village of Dharni, whose first wife and child had died in a fire.
She turned her face away from the bucket, her heart refusing to carry out Baldev’s orders just yet. A shiver ran through her body as she tried not to imagine life without her baby. Think of something else! Think about Gyani!
Gyani’s absence filled Hansa with a dark desolation, a sense of doom, as if his death itself was a living, breathing, overbearing entity.
She thought of his kind eyes, his missing teeth and graying beard, the massive orange turban which she’d tied for him every morning, and the long kurta he wore, which never looked clean no matter how many times she washed it…
But Gyani was gone. Two nights ago, his heart had stopped beating in his sleep, while she slept under the same blanket, her baby right beside her. When she awoke at dawn to the rooster’s call, she had found his cold still body. She shuddered to think she had slept with a corpse, oblivious, in the comfort of her own youthful warmth. Her first encounter with death. And if she did as Baldev asked, there would be another. Tonight.
Gyani’s death had stunned her, and grief hadn’t sunk in. She had not wept for his departed soul, and her neighbor warned her that if she didn’t mourn his passing, she would never move on. But did Hansa really want to move on into a future that included Baldev but excluded her baby?
According to the custom of karewa, Hansa knew that a young widow would be married off to her brother-in-law, so that the money remained in the family. Her neighbor had told her it was her kismet, her fate.
Hansa was brought up not to challenge the norms of society, but to follow them. If the combined wisdom of her ancestors had determined that she should move to Baldev’s village and begin a new life, who was she to argue? She had no family left, no other place to go.
Baldev choked on his spit and coughed outside, jarring the stillness of the night, reminding her of the task ahead.
But while it was her duty to follow Baldev’s orders, she would trade the impending task for eternal damnation.
Her neighbor had said that killing a baby was an unforgivable sin, even though she’d herself drowned two of her daughters the day they were born. Women are the form of Goddess, she’d said, crying at the fate of her own rotten soul.
But it was a matter of survival. Produce a male heir or be turned out on the streets to beg. A female child was a burden. Even Hansa knew that; her father had reminded her of that every day of her life.
That prejudice was her reality.
Hansa was terrified for her own soul, but Baldev said, “A mother can’t be a sinner if she takes a life she brought into this world.” And then he had gone and got drunk on tharra.
Gyani had been unlike most men in the village. He had allowed her to keep the baby, to give her a name. The baby’s eyes glittered like stars on a moonless night.
She called her Tara. Star.
Hansa looked at her baby with pride and with remorse, as every fiber of her being protested, and her stomach turned and her throat tightened.
Outside, Baldev stirred.
Time was running out.
Tara whimpered again, and Hansa turned to look at her chubby fists cycling in the still air, throwing outsized shadows on the walls. Hansa’s hands shook and her mouth turned dry. She bit her lip, forcing herself to focus on the imminent task.
The water in the bucket shimmered black and gold, reflecting the dancing flame of the lantern, mesmerizing, inviting. Water, the giver of life…


She made up her mind. It was now or never.

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About the author

Freelance author, blogger, and ex-Indian Air Force physician Sunanda Joshi Chatterjee completed her graduate studies in Los Angeles, where she is a practicing pathologist. While medicine is her profession, writing is her passion. When she’s not at the microscope making diagnoses, she loves to write fiction. Her life experiences have taught her that no matter how different people are, their desires, fears, and challenges remain the same.
Her themes include romantic sagas, family dramas, immigrant experience, women’s issues, medicine, and spirituality. She loves extraordinary love stories and heartwarming tales of duty and passion. Her short stories have appeared in and

She grew up in Bhilai, India, and lives in Arcadia, California with her husband and two wonderful children. In her free time, she paints, reads, sings, goes on long walks, and binge-watches TV crime dramas.

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Will we or won’t we? #MondayMusings

Will we or won’t we? #MondayMusings

My husband found me sitting quiet and asked me what was the matter.  Well,  I am not sure if I am the only one.  But with so much talks about going to war and revenge and all,  I am a tad worried.  Why?  He asks me.  No one else seems to be bothered.

But it is all over social media, I respond.  Open a Whatsapp chat and there are videos,  facts, details about war.  It seems to be exhorting people to be angry.  Twitter is another culprit with the ‘outrage’ going on for days.  And do not put on the TV.  The news anchor is fuming smoke from his nostrils and squirming in his seat (I really wonder why he does that) with taking revenge and asking politicians what is stopping them.  It is irresponsible media at the best.  I definitely do not forward such messages and wish other people also do not do it.  It is so easy to find its way to some impressionable mind who will think of taking action.  Mind you,  the people who want to go to war are sitting comfortably in their homes.  I am sure, they have no one doing anything near the border or will want their family to be involved.

It also does not mean that I do not want to respond to a war-like situation.  But,  I believe we should follow Chanakya’s ‘Saam, dhaam, dand, bhed’ concept.  i.e Advice, Offer or negotiate, punish and lastly, isolate and exploit.

I have been recently reading the non-fiction book ‘War Torn’ and seeing the plight of the people in those countries and its after effects,  I am certainly in no hurry to join a war or a war-like situation.

Hope peace reigns and we can just talk it over like civilised people.  Let me get back to work and let life continue.




Interview with Author Radhika Swarup

Interview with Author Radhika Swarup

Radhika Swarup

Radhika Swarup is a full time writer and commentator on feminist and Indian issues. She lives in London, and her work has appeared in Indian broadsheets and British literary journals. Her debut novel Where the River Parts, which follows the lives of a couple caught up in the India-Pakistan Partition, was published in February 2016.  It has now been published in India by Rupa Publications. I was lucky to read the book via NetGalley. It is a beautiful story of love and the book is an excellent read. Read the spoiler-free review on the blog.

Check out her website : and follow her on Twitter : @rdswarup

Here is a short Q&A with the author.


Tell us about your book ‘Where the River Parts’. 

Where the River Parts follows a Hindu-Muslim couple caught up in the traumatic Partition of India and Pakistan.  They are separated during the process, and don’t see each other for the next fifty years.  It is only half a century later, as both India and Pakistan are testing their nuclear weapons, that the two meet again in New York and face an impossible choice.  Where the River Parts straddles half a century and three countries, and has been described as a timeless tale of love, loss and longing.

At its heart, this is a love story.  What did you set out to tell readers when you started writing? 

Where the River Parts speaks of the distances that grow between us, reflected physically in Asha and Firoze’s separation, but also in the schism that grew between India and Pakistan.  So while the novel follows the love and loss experienced by its protagonists, it also follows the same emotions experienced by millions across both sides of the geographical border as once co-existing communities are torn apart and taught a hate-filled Continue reading

And I am back

And I am back

After being away from my website for two weeks,  I am back.  Hope you all missed me.  I was expecting some downtime,  but two weeks were really not as per my plans.  But such is life.  The best laid plans went for a toss.  Plan A, Plan B and Plan C failed too.

I moved my web hosting and domain from GoDaddy to Bluehost.  I was happy with my account in Godaddy.  But, towards the end of the year,  it started to give me technical problems.  As the website grew,  there was a space crunch on the hosting and there was nothing much I could do about it.  This led to frequent down times, delays in loading the website and sometimes,  I was not at all able to open the website.  I heard the feedback from a lot of you too on the slowness of the website.  I changed the webdesign to remove many plugins and widgets, cache savers,  but all were useless. Continue reading