When Kalpa got pregnant for the seventh time, her husband threw her out of the house on the grounds of her being a girl-bearing wretch. She gave birth to her seventh daughter on the streets, who died soon after. Kalpa now shares quarters with mentally unstable women at a short-stay shelter. Her husband has remarried since then.The novel I'm writing is set in India in the seventies. It's impossible for my protagonist to be the feisty, empowered heroine-archetype who is conventional in today's YA lit. Like the women in the slide show, Asha's goals are worth championing and her stakes are high -- two basic plotting prerequisites. The problem is that they're taken for granted by most book-loving North American young women, who usually don't worry about survival, dependency, or the struggle for education. And so I write on, trying to help my readers appreciate a totally different kind of feminine fight, and am grateful for other writers taking on this particular challenge.
India's Invisible Women
Ruhani Khan's disturbing slide show, India's Invisible Women, gives me no excuse for griping that our entire clan wept when I was born. Yes, I was a third daughter in a sonless family, and my mother carried shame for decades, but neither of us faced anything like this: