During my years of living and working in Silicon Valley, I met some first-generation Indian immigrant women who, despite their professional achievements, were struggling with their husbands’ anger issues, which ranged from public berating/humiliation to private beatings and more. The usual coping mechanisms for these women are to either make excuses for the men (high-stress jobs, alcohol, etc.) or to blame themselves for being somehow responsible. An Indian woman will rarely walk away from her marriage, especially if the husband is doing well professionally. Her own family is likely to view that as both her failure to hold her marriage together and her short-sightedness for her own financial wellbeing, immigrant status, etc. Additionally, as a society, we certainly do not make it easy for single women to thrive, especially if they also have to raise kids on their own. Continue reading Published: On Domestic Abuse and Saving Our Men (Hofstra Windmill Online)
With this story, I wanted to show an Indian woman who walks away from an abusive marriage, despite the shame and blame, and finds her own place. Heena leaves her techie husband and troubled life in Silicon Valley to return to India and start again. She has to come to terms with her family abandoning her and the neighbors questioning her morality. She has to take her own power back from the world, making no excuses for who she is or wants to be. The narrative focuses on her life after the marriage because such an existence is hard to even imagine for those in abusive situations — for good reason, of course. I confess it would have been more challenging if I had included kids or legal aspects, which are inescapable realities for many and my story covers only the start of such a difficult solo journey. Continue reading Published: Life Spring (Hofstra’s Windmill Magazine)
Messages had been sidewinding their way to her till she could no longer ignore them. The old hill-bound boarding school was shutting down because of “an epidemic of snakes.” Local Hindu authorities, believing it was ancient Naga ground, would not allow any killing. They had proposed buying the premises for loose change to develop a temple complex. The longstanding Board of Trustees, which had replaced the school’s colonial British owners a few years after Independence, had accepted with the relief of a prisoner escaping a harsh sentence. Continue reading Published: Her Solitary Domain (Five:2:One Magazine)
Hot Metal Bridge is the literary journal of the MFA Program at the University of Pittsburgh. They have published work by Sherman Alexie, Sherrie Flick, Dan Chaon, Ewa Chrusciel, and Rodrigo Toscano, and more. I am thrilled they accepted ‘Lili’s Song’ for their 21st issue. As the outgoing Editor-in-Chief, Josh Graber, said in his Letter, “21 feels auspicious, like we’ve reached the drinking age in lit mag years and should pop champagne and get a little crazy.” Lilima, an Indian-American teenager, is taking a two-week India vacation with her parents during the summer of 2016, before Junior Year. This story is set during the first day of their road trip from Mumbai to Goa.
Continue reading Published: Lili’s Song (Hot Metal Bridge)
Over the past couple of years, I’ve been highlighting an interesting, lesser-known woman on this particular day. Why? Mostly for the same reason that we mark this particular day: to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievement of women. The 2017 theme for IWD is #BeBoldForChange. So, this year, I’d like to share the story of Noor Inayat Khan — a bold, badass woman I read about last year. She was also featured on Public Radio International earlier this year as the “Indian spy princess who died fighting the Nazis.” She was a Muslim. A refugee. A princess. A guerrilla fighter, trained in bomb-making, sabotage and secret communications. But above all, she was a war hero. Continue reading International Women’s Day 2017: #BeBoldforChange