The 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.
My own daughter was fourteen years old then, and I realized how fortunate we are that we can provide a safe environment for our children.
So I created my lead character, Hansa, who is married off at a young age in Rajasthan, and is soon widowed. She has indomitable spirit, even when she is to be wedded to her brother-in-law after her husband’s death. She takes action only when she is asked to drown her baby girl.
As thirteen year old Hansa grew up, I put myself in her shoes and worked within her constraints to create obstacles and opportunities for her. I think I grew up with her.
Mental and physical violence against women is a global phenomenon. But there are courageous women go out of their way to help others. That idea created Rani Sahiba, whose determination to educate Hansa and help her become independent brings her to America where she must give testimony in court in front of a lawyer who mocks her status and doubts her integrity.
Women often overcome harsh realities in their lives, and rise up to help others. That concept created Bela and Damini, the other supporting women in the book.
And then there’s Anne, a Jehovah Witness, who is tormented by her inability to have a baby. When she adopts, she wonders if she can really love the child like she would have loved her own flesh and blood. Every decision she makes is tainted by that doubt.
But central to the book is Hansa, who personifies empowerment of women.
My wish is to create awareness about child marriage and female infanticide. During my research, I discovered a wonderful organization Girls Not Brides, whom I support for their work in preventing child marriages globally.
About the author
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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