From addressing the issue of female foeticide in her debut novel, Witness the Night, to touching upon surrogacy and adoption in Origins of Love, and recently bringing to light the issue of rape in The Sea of Innocence — print, TV journalist-turned author Kishwar Desai’s subjects have always revolved around the sad state of women in India.
Her eyes speak of the anger and frustration, brushed with helplessness, when you broach the topic. She refers to the recent Tarun Tejpal incident and says, “Look at what’s happened; isn’t it horrifying? Women need more security. They are only treated as objects. So, it becomes all the more important to write about such issues.”
Besides the subjects Desai has touched in her books, there’s a sea of injustices being faced by Indian women on a daily basis, says she. “We really need to make a difference. A combination of various factors has led to this status of women. The worst is being witnessed in caste-driven societies. No matter how educated you are, the immediate patriarchal reaction is to not let the woman step out. That’s where the problem lies. If all of us push back with vengeance, it will get all the more difficult for men to have their hold.”
About her recent book, The Sea of Innocence, she says, “I wrote the book before the Delhi gang rape incident. I was angry when I wrote that book. Gang rapes are a common occurrence in rural areas. They are only escalated when someone ‘influential’ is involved.”
Kishwar is also setting up the Crime Writer’s Association of South Asia, which would focus on everyday issues. The author also shows eagerness to join hands, as she says, “We should certainly have a group on social media where we talk about such issues. Because, it’s difficult for many women to come out and speak. Even in the Tejpal incident, social media is what helped take the case to another level.”
Kishwar is once again busy with Simran Singh series, after her previous novels, where character Simran Singh was the protagonist. Before she wrote these fiction books, Kishwar’s first book was non-fiction — Darlingji: The True Love Story of Nargis and Sunil Dutt. But, she sees crime novels as something that provide her readers with closure. Kishwar also discloses that a TV channel is
planning to do a series on her book, Witness the Night.
Before we sign off, Ambala girl Kishwar, who spent a few years in Chandigarh, says, “When I used to be in Chandigarh, no literary or theatre activities were taking place. It’s great to see so many lit fests being organised all over the country. Suddenly, being a writer is glamorous! You realise that you belong to a guild of thousands of other writers.”