We all remember with atrocious clarity the events that occurred on the night of 16th December 2012. A fatal sexual assault on a woman managed to move people around the world to take action. Horrifying, barbaric and brutal is how we described the incident while also dishing out graphic details of the gory incident in harsh depth.
The incident has definitely been one of the most soul-stirring and shocking event of our times. It also managed to bring so many fallacies and flaws of our society to the stage of deliberation and discussion. We cribbed about the inadequacy of timely help and support; there was much hue and cry about the insouciant attitude towards crimes, there were debates about punitive action against the criminals including the juvenile, it mourned the loss of humanity. But most importantly, it agonized over the sorry state of women in the country. Because the victim was an archetype of a modern woman, being career-oriented, independent and fun-loving, the incident resonates with us.
At this critical juncture, Sukhmani Gandhi, a student of Lady Shri Ram College, has written a thought-provoking debut novel called The Shadow of the Dark Soul as a tribute to Nirbhaya. The book begins with her take on the incident, and on a plethora of other issues that are related to the incident. The book raises some really important questions: How glorious is a country where women are still something to be protected by men and brothers? What about values in a man? Would a cultured man who has virtues deeply etched in his mind be a party to this charade that our country doles out? How can our politicians and leaders compare the holy union of matrimony to rape? There is a ceaseless torrent of questions which bring the lack of logic in all argument given in public sphere to suppress women.
From there, the book follows the story of a journalist whose conscience is targeted, and here she is the symbol of the indifferent populace. The book completes itself by providing a solution: change comes from actions, not just words. Words and ideas can change the world, but not unless these are translated into proactive, fruitful action.
The book is a reminder of the fake equality we try to boast of, and the fact that there’s a long way to go still.