Manuscript help, book reviews and author interviews
1945 – when many in pre-independence India had to make a choice between Gandhi’s ideology of nonviolence and Bose’s idea of snatching what was rightfully yours. The Curse of Damini starts with fifteen year old Renuka letting go of her belief in Bapu “An eye for an eye would make the whole world blind” and joining the young revolutionaries under the leadership of her brother. When things get risky and she is confined to her room, Renuka dreams of the bigger world and its challenges. What keeps her occupied is her passion for writing poems and short stories. And as the nation celebrates freedom, Renuka gets tied in the bondage of an arranged marriage, much against her wishes.
Debajani Mohanty writes well and the story starts off in a very promising manner. The plot takes the reader back to the golden era of Bengali narratives.The historical setting adds to the charm. By introducing different characters, Debajani manages to add intrigue. The saga unfolds with Renuka trying desperately trying to break the shackles of tradition, prejudice and superstition. What stands out is the authenticity of the narrative. History tells the story of many women all over India, who fought for their place in the society. While many failed, there were some who made a mark. As the narrative flows, one gets caught up in the tribulations of the protagonist. References to a curse add spice, but as with so many debut novels, the narrative gets lengthy and loses its charm towards the climax. The effort put into research is commendable and the conceptualisation of the story is interesting. What could have been a crackling piece of literature, stumbles…….maybe because of inadequate manuscript help and thorough editing.
This is Debajani’s debut novel and the inspiration for The Curse of Damini, is the contemporary case of “Nirbhaya”. According to Debajani, “The story is written with a mindset to eradicate violence on women (especially RAPE) from the society. I started writing this some 2.5 years back after the Nirbhaya case in Delhi and my work is supported by “Nirbhaya Jyoti Trust” founded by Nirbhaya’s parents………….Actually I wished to write a book on the various issues that affect Indian women- rape, widowhood, adultery, riots and its effect on women as a whole.”
Asked as to why the story starts in 1945 and spans the decades, ending in 2014, she elaborated,”I chose to write a period script which also adds certain unique features to appeal readers of every taste. I read the lives of many business tycoons (women) who are successful in personal lives too. For writing this novel I had to read some 50 books most of which are period stories that include MK Gandhi’s autobiography and Bharat Ek Khoj.”