Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The feminine divinity is what author Sunanda Joshi Chatterjee believes in!

Author Sunanda Joshi Chatterjee
In your stories, the protagonists, usually young girls show remarkable mental strength and resilience. Is that to instill courage and confidence in young girls or do you think they all have it in them, but are unaware of it?

My stories show strong female protagonists facing odds that are seemingly impossible to overcome. But through their own strength, and through the help of family and friends, they accomplish things they had not thought possible. I admire people with strong convictions who will stand against injustice at the peril of their own safety. Today, women all over the world face prejudice and injustice, regardless of religion or culture. Women must stick to the stereotypes or be considered aggressive or pushy, and in turn, undesirable. Why can’t a woman have the same ambition as a man? Why can’t she be the main provider, or be the dominant one in a relationship? The saddest part is that it is often women who are the perpetrators and perpetuators of such beliefs and prejudices.

Having been in the Indian Air Force at a time when women officers were few and far between, I faced my own set of challenges and had to fight stereotypes: “Why is this woman wearing a uniform?” “Why must I salute a woman, that too, one younger than me?” Some of the officers’ wives did not like their husbands saluting me. Did I not salute officers who were senior to me? Their civilian wives did not have to salute officers who were senior to their husbands. Did the wives object then?

I was there because of my own ability, devotion, and perseverance. I wanted to scream, “I have earned those salutes!”

Growing up in a family with two boys and two girls, I always felt that my parents never differentiated between us when it came to our education and opportunities. They encouraged us all equally. That open-mindedness empowered me.

I want the female characters in my stories to feel the same sense of empowerment. My characters may start out living within the confines of societal expectations. They laugh when they are happy, cry when they are sad, and love with all their heart. But one thing unites them: they all learn to speak up in the face of inequality, and fight for justice.

I believe in the feminine divinity, the female power, which rises only when essential, which fights only when called upon to rid the world of atrocities. And that female power exists in each of us: man or woman. That power is what makes my characters strong. Because it is nascent until necessary, and then it is unleashed with phenomenal power. And they have help not just from the stereotypical male protectors. They are helped by other female characters: Rani for Hansa in Fighting for Tara, and Lupe for Moyna in Shadowed Promise.

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