When lovely Isabelle Kenyon from Fly on the Wall got in touch about Disobedient Women by Sangeeta Mulay I was devastated that I simply couldn’t fit in a review as it sounds exactly my kind of read. However, I was thrilled to be able to host an extract for the blog tour and it’s my pleasure to share that with you today.
Disobedient Women was published by Fly on the Wall on 25th November 2022 and is available for purchase here.
Set in contemporary India, Sangeeta Mulay’s unforgettable debut novel is a compelling story of four unforgettable characters:
Aparna – a courageous campaigner of rationality and freedom of expression. Will the patriarchal grip of a religious society manage to silence her?
Hari –the passionate founder of a religious organisation. As Hari becomes a rising star for the local Hindu right-wing, will he lose himself?
Naseem – Aparna’s wise daughter who is discovering her sexuality. Will she have the strength to stand up for her mother against societal stigma?
Kashi – Hari’s daughter who is in love with science and…girls? Confused about her sexuality, will she be able to lead life on her own terms?
Confronting issues of religion, bigotry, sex and politics, DISOBEDIENT WOMEN tells the interwoven stories of two families and their battle of ideologies.
A novel of the choices women make under pressure, where to be disobedient is the only option that offers change.
An Extract from Disobedient Women
6th May 2014. Time: 12:00
Two years after his daughter’s birth, Hari hoped for a son, but despite his best efforts (he made Lata narrate thirteen different shlokas), Lata could not conceive. Kashi would remain their only child.
When Kashi was five, she was besotted with a stray dog loitering in the neighbourhood. After feeding him scraps of bhakri for two consecutive days, the dog parked himself permanently outside their house waiting for Kashi, and then followed her everywhere after she emerged. He was a scruffy, skinny creature, but Kashi was smitten.
“Don’t bring that dirty mongrel inside the house,” Lata shouted.
“Aai, he wants to be a part of the family too. I’ve named him Ganu, short for Ganesha.”
“You cannot name him after a god, you little fool,” hissed Lata.
“But why? I love him,” protested Kashi, hugging the dog.
“You can’t. Dogs are dirty. They don’t wash their bums. Call him something else. If your father finds out, he will be very angry.”
Kashi, held onto Lata’s sari, refusing to let go. “He won’t. Ganu is such a nice name.”
“Ugh! Don’t touch me after you’ve touched that dirty beast. Go and wash your hands at once. You don’t know what diseases he is carrying.”
That afternoon at lunch, Kashi hollered, “Baba, why can’t I have a tail?”
Hari looked up, speechless. Lata, worried about an eruption, muttered inconsequential words which made no sense but softened the sudden silence. Then Hari laughed, and the room became happier.
“Why do you want a tail? Yuck! Dirty little things hanging off bums.”
Kashi giggled. “Tails are not dirty, Baba. I so want one. Please can you get one for me?”
The family laughed and thought that was the end of it, but Kashi kept up a constant refrain of wanting a tail. Finally, Hari fashioned one out of a towel for her. She stuck it in her knickers and frolicked with Ganu.
“She will forget about it tomorrow,” Hari said, in a low voice.
“Thank God for that,” Lata sighed.
Kashi did not forget. The tail, tightly tucked in her knickers, mocked them again the next day.
What’s with the child? Is she going to carry the tail for the rest of her life? Lata worried about her daughter.That afternoon, she spotted Kashi lifting Ganu’s tail and peering underneath. Lata caught hold of Kashi by her frock and dragged her away from the dog.
“I was just looking at the attachment. His tail is attached differently to mine,” said Kashi.
That night, Lata narrated the incident to Hari. “Her behaviour is abnormal. Instead of playing with dolls, she is interested in mongrels and their tails!”
Hari grunted. “Don’t worry. I will teach her shlokas. The act of memorisation will help her.”
The next morning, after Kashi had her bath and was about to go out to play, Hari stopped her. “Today, I’m going to teach you something new.”
“A new shloka. If you chant this shloka every time you have a bath, you will feel refreshed and have more energy.”
“I don’t want to,” said Kashi, the tail hanging resolutely behind her. “I already have lots of energy. See.” She flexed her arm muscles to show him.
“Kashi. Wait. You will find this interesting.” He led her by the hand and made her sit in front of him. As he chanted, a glazed look appeared on her face and then she nodded off despite the morning hour.
Hari got up in disgust. Lata did not have the same fondness for shlokas that Hari did, so Kashi was left alone.
About Sangeeta Mulay
Sangeeta Mulay was born in Pune in India and now currently works in London as a UX writer. She received an honourable mention in the 2021 NYC midnight micro-fiction challenge. Her book for young adults, Savitribai Phule and I was a notable book of 2020 for The Bombay Review. She has also had a short story highly commended in the Sydney Hammond short story competition. Another of Mulay’s short stories will be published in a 2022 Fox and Windmill anthology.
To find out more about Sangeeta, follow her on Twitter @groggy_eyes and find her on Instagram and Facebook.
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2 thoughts on “An Extract from Disobedient Women by Sangeeta Mulay”
Hi Linda, this is a most interesting extract. A captivating title too.
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