Love, Loneliness and Lamenting Hearts
Bhanumati Mishra by Githanjali Ratna Books, New Delhi, 2019, 181 pp., 349.00
June 2020, volume 44, No 6

Githanjali’s book of short stories, The Rock That Was Not, deals with Indian women who are striving hard to stay afloat in wedlock, while claiming their own identity. Marriage becomes a tool for patriarchy to suppress their identity. Unfortunately, for millions of Indian girls the ultimate ‘goal’ of their life is still to get married at a ‘marriageable age’ irrespective of who they may be getting married to.

The title of the book is taken from the first story titled ‘The Rock That Was Not’ where Prathima the protagonist undergoes a silicon implant to enhance her non-existent breasts as they fail to satisfy her husband Ashok. ‘Her husband got the artificial pouches fixed in her body like trophies on a wall because she did not have those lumps of flesh’ (p. 14) She goes through a traumatic journey all through her life due to these foreign objects inside her body. After she is detected with breast cancer, Prathima emerges to be a ‘new woman’ by her positive will to regain control of her body.

In ‘Offering’ Malanbi is married at an early age to a man double her age, and her life is a living   hell. She does all that a dutiful and obedient wife does but is tortured by her abusive husband.  She has no one to express her agony to but her daughter Tabassum. When detected with tumour and advised by the doctor to get her uterus removed, she pleads to her womanizer husband not to  marry again after her operation (p. 29).

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