Book Review: She

 Book: She

Genre: Fiction

Author: Santosh Avvanavar

SheI was travelling when this book was delivered at home. Accustomed to think novel as a at least 200 pages thick, I was surprised to see this booklet thinner than a travel guide!

The story it seemed was based in Kolkata, precisely where I had travelled to on an assignment. My expectations for the story had slightly gone down a bit due to the size of the book and I took my own sweet time to start reading the book.

Inspired by the song by RabindraNath Tagore ‘Ekla Cholo Re’ the story is about the society’s behaviour towards the LGBT community.

It is the story of Kusum who born a boy, prefers to indulge in activities more popular with girls. The father, though a doctor is ashamed of his child’s choice of activities and all hell breaks loose when father discovers the sexual inclinations of the child.

Kusum, falls in love with the son of another doctor, Dr Banerjee,  a friend of father. Both set of parents are horrified and Dr Banerjee shifts his son to some other city. The boys, all grown up meet again after few years and rekindle their relationship. However the societal norms and pressures make the lovers decide that  Kusum undergo a sex-change procedure and become a ‘proper’ female for the relationship to continue. But even after the successful sex-change procedure, the fear of ostracism from the society gets to the lover and he succumbs to his family demands of marrying another woman.

The author has tried to draw attention towards our behaviour as a whole towards the gay, lesbian and trans-genders which is far from empathy. We still consider gay relationships inappropriate and look down upon such alliances. The trans-genders are still not accepted in the normal society and the LGBT community is fighting for their place in the regular social thread of society, just like the protagonist of the story.

After reading the story, I realised that busy with my own everyday life and small problems, even I never gave thought to needs of people who are not defined as ‘he’ or ‘she’ in the society.

The story is an attempt to open up your eye but I wish there was more body to the story and the characters were developed in detail with the agony of the characters, the reaction of parents and the final decision of Kusum to go ahead in the world alone were defined properly. It seems like a hurriedly told story or more like an excerpt. The issue of acceptance of LGBT community is huge and the story does no justice in taking it up.

A great effort but a very short story. Decide for yourself….

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