The Versatilist

A rhythmic space for Hindi Poetry, Book Reviews and Travel Stories

Book Review: The Lesson, by Sowmya Rajendran

  • Published: 2015
  • Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers India
  • Pages: 190
  • My Rating & Recommendation: 5/5, Must Read

There are some books which make the reader wish there were more to it. “Hey, what happened after that? ‘This can’t be the end!”. This book certainly does that to you, it keeps you hanging, hanging in the balance I wish to say but that’s hardly the truth. Wondering why?

“Why did they lock us in the cage?” the daughter asked her mother.

“To keep us safe from the wild cats in the jungle!” said the mother.

“But wouldn’t it have been better to lock them up instead?” asked the daughter feeling foolish.

In an oversimplified statement, this book is about women/girls, their rights and the way they ought to be treated in the society. But there’s a catch! The author, Sowmya Rajendran, brutally bypasses the cliched commentary and instead creates a satirical alternate reality where considering women & girls as second rate gender and undeserving of any equality, freedom or right is a darned norm. The theme revolves around a ‘society’ where women/girls need to abide by the codified policies and rules of acceptable behavior, dressing, marriage and so on. And there is a Rapist, whose job is to teach a lesson to the ‘law-breaking’ women. The plot focuses on teaching ‘a lesson’ to a woman who refuses to abide by ‘Please Adjust‘ policy laid down by the Adjustment Bureau and seeks a divorce from a husband who physically abused her.

The writing style is intriguing and the author deals a strong subject with an equally powerful and hard hitting narrative. This book corners you as a reader, it compels you to think, rethink and form an opinion and yet, at no point prescribes or educates. It delivers a clear message and by design, doesn’t let you ‘hang in the balance‘. It just stares at you, piercingly, just enough to make you feel rattled but still manages not to burn you with the flare! Overall, for a reader, it’s challenging, provocative and compelling, a definite read!

Happy Reading!

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