Dear Diary, Bombay,
September, 1921 Night, 8 pm.
The meditative silence in my room, now that Lilian has forayed into the garden, clubbed with the music of the showering rains serves as a tonic for my hassled mind. I haven’t felt this feeling of self-satisfaction in four whole years! I was amazed to see both Razia and Mumtaz in colourful elegant sarees, a distinct hint at deserting the purdah that had confined them to the ancient world they never belonged in. Mumtaz made it crystal clear that she won’t resume the life behind the jali windows ever again! Razia nonchalantly announced her decision to stay with Mumtaz who sported a warm smile all along this one-hour conversation. I informed the both of them about their entitlement of a percentage of the unconsumed profit from Farid Fabrics. All this while I kept pondering about Sakina and her world tumbling down now that she has to spend one year behind the bars. How can she go to this extent of plotting two murders in a fit of rage due to betrayal by her beloved one? From my experience, perhaps its that burning fume that ignites in the person deceived that can be utilised to either make something unbelievable out of themselves or walk onto the path of self-destruction. Nevertheless, I came across Alice at the hotel’s Palm Lounge where she invited me over a glass of whiskey-soda. The maître d’hôtel remarked that spinsters weren’t served alcohol. Reaching out for my business card and handing it over to him, I retorted back saying that to provide male guests alcohol but not the females was against the hotel’s notion of equal hospitality! What next? five minutes later, Alice was relishing her whiskey while I was back to my gin-lime. “To the power of women!” she toasted.
Read Part 2: Diary Of A Woman From The 1920s
Jali : mesh
Lillian: Parveen’s (Protagonist) Parrot
Purdah: the custom, found in some Muslim and Hindu cultures, of keeping women from being seen by men they are not related to, by having them live in a separate part of the house or behind a curtain, and having them wear clothing that covers the wholebody, including the face .
Read Part 1: Diary Of A Woman From The 1920s
The Widows of Malabar Hills by Sujata Massey is set in 1920s, Bombay and revolves around the life of Parveen Mistry, one of the pioneering female lawyers of British India equipped with a law degree from Oxford. A diary entry is an effective medium that conveys most personal and raw encounters of day to day happenings in the writer’s life. Neither fabricated nor elaborated with concoctions, it delivers the most tender emotions that bind humans in an unusually unconventional soul-level way. Hence, ahead of her time, Parveen’s knotty life involving phallocentric norms and ostracised treatment of women at both professional and personal front, which she fought against deserves to be narrated to the susceptible modern women who occasionally find themselves in a crippling state due to conservative traditions and injustice at play that bars them from achieving dreams.