Darpan - Indian Women In Transition

By Sesh Damerla

Foreword by Sunanda Mehta

Resident Editor, Indian Express.

Do you know the 20 things a woman should stop wearing after 30? The answer: 1-20 the weight of other peoples expectations and judgments.

This was a text I received just the other day.

These were also the words that ran through my mind as I turned the pages of this book- reading, mulling over and absorbing each of the 14 stories that, so true to the book’s title, mirror the changing image of the Indian woman- right from her roles and responsibilities as a woman to the rediscovery and redefining of her own identity.

The world around us has changed dramatically over the past two decades- thanks of the advent of information technology that has broken down global walls and encompassed the entire human race into one virtual world. While the ramifications of this new age advancement are manifold, nowhere perhaps has this been a bigger catalyst for change than in the sphere of feminism. The entry of the world into our personal spaces has affected fairly rapid and successful unshackling of the fetters that had suffocated womanhood for far too long and opened up newer horizons- both in terms of opportunities and attitudes, in the physical and mental spheres.

This is especially true perhaps of my generation of women who grew up in fairly conservative environment and found their true liberation in a world they only stepped into years later – and in many cases in step with their children. For the new world today is one that has largely freed the woman from the heaviest burden she had to carry on her shoulders- that of expectations and judgments. The weight very cleverly stacked under a pedestal that the world conspired to put her on to in turn demand of her an unending line of sacrifices and compromises. A pedestal that she reluctantly ascended, for she knew that once on it she dare not rock the balance with the added weight of her own ambitions and aspirations in life.

It is this burden which has now shifted with the times, allowing the women in India to breathe of the freedom they hitherto only learnt of during their childhood through books and stories but which they saw becoming increasingly elusive as they step into adulthood and into the traditional roles laid down by society’s diktats.

Darpan reflects that change in the air. Be it the contrast between the obedient Anju and the rebel Milli and how life evens out the difference in Prateeksha, the miscalculations of Ameeta in How Was She To Know or the hidden strength of Chandra in The Dilemma. The stories talk of how a woman can handle loss (Neela in Merry Wives at a party and Moni in The Baby’s First Step), parental responsibilities (Munni in Rakhee) and a redefined sense of life’s surprises (Kusum in Feelings). Most significantly what leaves a lasting impression on you are that the stories are told at a leisurely pace, devoid of melodrama and are more of narratives from the book called Life rather than stereotyped stories that need to have a structured format and an ending where all the loose ends tie up. In many of the stories in fact the end is left open to interpretation, making this both a compelling read and a thought provoking experience. And if there is anything that does tie it all together it’s the sublime message that the only thing that works as far as liberation of the women is concerned is the right to take their own decisions in life and in that control their destinies. Some may be right, some may be wrong but the power to steer your life in a certain way, sans guilt, is what real freedom is all about. It’s the true Darpan of our ultimate evolution as a specie.

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Darpan Reviews

Dr. R A Mashelkar

National Research Professor, NCL, Pune.
President - Global Research Alliance.

'Darpan - Stories of Indian Woman in Transition' is truly absorbing. Indeed, I found this work eminently readable and insightful. In the book, there is a wide diversity of characters of Indian Women that are portrayed by the author Sesh Damerla. They range from poor to the neo-rich, from those that are suppressed and victimized to those that triumph over the adversity showing exceptional courage and character.

As Sesh Damerla points out my stories attempt to reflect a majority of woman for whom transition has been an upward movement from total dependence on a man to survival and further on to empowerment, be it total or partial. And she is absolutely right here. I am sure the readers will find this collection of stories of an ‘Indian woman in transition’ both informative and inspirational.
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Dr. Radhakrishnan Pillai

Author of the book, Corporate Chanakya, winner of the 2009 Sardar Patel Award, leading Management Guru and also the Director of The Chanakya Institute of Public Leadership (CIPL).
It is often said, that men cannot understand women. It is true to some extent, but if a woman can write so beautifully and express the woman in her, men can at least come close to a womans’ thinking....Sesh has done that with her wonderful work – Darpan (yes a mirror to oneself)

One cannot but associate with each of the characters as if it was one’s own mother, sister, wife or daughter. I felt like a woman, as I was reading through these stories. Maybe, making me a better man.

Sesh has an amazing way of storytelling, the way it is told in our Indian tradition. Stories are a way to a persons’ heart and feelings. But each story has a different moral for every person. So read on to find your moral and meaning from each story. Best wishes Sesh for a best seller in making.
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Geeta Monga

An engineer now home maker.
At last, we have a vibrant new author on the Indian scene! Sesh Rao Damerla eloquently weaves tales around the various vicissitudes faced by an Indian woman and how she rises to the occasion, undaunted by her circumstances. Be it a Chandra who literally faces a ‘life and death situation’ or Paranjala the canny but sensitive politician or the courageous Sabina or even Mani who grabs life with both hands! The ethos that echoes in each and every story is heartfelt and will surely convince the reader that there is more to her than meets the eye!

R. Gopalakrishnan

Director, Tata Sons Limited.
Story telling has always proved to be the finest way of messaging subtly. These stories make the reader aware of how influenced in our attitudes we are by the lenses we have on our eyes. The other half of humanity is about to be released from its traditional status. A subtle change is going on. Bravo to Sesh Damerla!

Sudha Menon

Author of best selling books Legacy and Gifted
A book that talks about life as it is for every woman in this country.

Dolly Manghat

An international motivational speaker and Astrologer.
Going through Darpan one tends to connect with it instantly. The stories are so well written that they touch a cord in your heart somewhere makes you relive the moments and a realization sets in. Sesh has very well brought out the changing patterns of one's behavior and attitude as you grow in life. The stories are not only related to the elitist in fact it speaks of women from all walks of life right from the rural to the urban. With the simplicity of the language and the free flowing words the realization of the harsh truth faced by women from all walks off life hits you deeply. A reading which can inspire many of us & make us realize the strength we all possess within.

R. V. Krishnan

Founder, BDB India Private Limited.
This is a collection of captivating stories in contemporary Indian setting, narrated in an easy, flowing and charming style of storytelling. Covering a wide array of what seems like real life situations, every reader – of any gender or age – can relate instantly with the characters in the tales. For me, this induced a sense of participation in the events unfolding in the stories; and made it great fun to read them!

Sesh Damerla truly has wonderful expression and an ability to connect with readers through her characters. Her stories reveal that she has an insightful understanding of the transition that is taking place in our societies today; and of the attitudinal ambiguities such changes inevitably bring with them. Are we responding of our free will to such changes? Or are we responding through our traditional conditioning and societal pressures? Her stories hold up an excellent mirror.

Jyothi Sharma Rourkela

An ability to observe, an ability to think about what one has observed and an ability to give expression to those thoughts, is what makes a successful writer. Sesh Damerla is one of the most observant and articulate persons I have known. Looking forward to enjoying her 'Darpan' and wishing the book a great launch