Six Indian women from diverse backgrounds as different from each other as chalk and cheese. What could they possibly have in common? What could a childless performance artist, who likes inflicting pain on herself, have in common with a young Muslim house wife, who was taken out of school the day she had her period, and married to an older man? What could an anaemic housewife afraid of delivering a girl child have in common with a beautiful computer programmer, who is looking forward to complete her family? What could an artist working in an advertising agency, who yearns to have children, have in common with a pregnant teenager distraught at the news of her pregnancy?
Unaware of each others’ existence they are bound by a common thread – they see the same gynaecologist, Mrinalini. She serves not only as their doctor but as a woman and a confidante, who helps them take decisions that are best for them whether or not they appease their families (or the collective social conscience). This is a story of the people we see everyday. I had read the book years ago, and rereading it again, I felt it was a more universal story – the story of every woman.
For the frank way it talks about women’s bodies and the issues it deals with, like, pregnancy, adoption, infidelity, the emphasis on a male child, the treatment of women as sexual slaves and work horses without a mind of their own, the diktats of society placed on women, and many other things, the book would remain in my consciousness for a long time to come.
Priyamvada N Purushotham’s The Purple Line is refreshingly unorthodox in the way it tells stories of these women. For the review head here.