Social media can prove to be quite deceiving. It’s like wearing rose tinted glasses, especially when it comes to one’s relationship status. So much for people who love prying into your personal space, especially when it comes to your relationship status.
Sreemoyee Piu Kundu uncovers the tangible reasons behind ‘Status Single’ in India’s first ever non-fictional novel on the growing number of single women residing in the urban locales of India. India’s population comprises of 74 million single women, which totals to 21% of the total population.
“I personally enjoy the ‘Being single’ status. But if we delve into the crux of the issue, we learn that there is a large number of women who are single out of choice, and there is another lot (and a sizable one at that) who are single, out of circumstances.”, states Sreemoyee.
Status Single is the author’s first ever non- fiction work. She had earlier written ‘Sita’s Curse,’ and ‘You’ve got the Wrong Girl.’ She eagerly waits to pen her ten act play, and author her own memoir.
“I really didn’t think I would ever key down detailed insights on the plight of single middle class women residing in the urban locales of India,” quips Sreemoyee. It all started about two years ago. The ardent feminist would write short stories recounting her experience on being single. Reading this, her agent asked her to author a full-fledge account, detailing the plight of single women across the country. The prospect sounded exciting! And in about a year and a half Sreemoyee put her journalistic skills to use and got cracking.
That year, Sremoyee spoke to three thousand women! The band-width comprised of all those who went through dating mishaps, disturbed relationships, broken marriages, women who resisted the urge to marry owing to social evils corrupting the institution of marriage, to single challenged women, single challenged women with children, people from the LGBTQ community, and more.
In a tête-à-tête with Sreemoyee, I learnt that she isn’t against being in a relationship. “I would love to be loved by a man! However, in my 40’s I know exactly what I want. I want to share my life with someone who respects me just as much as I respect him. I want to travel the world with him! But I still believe that the institution of marriage is flawed.” This is because she believes, that one’s sullies the equation with their better half over issues concerning finances, property, families, and a lot more. Love takes a backseat then. The relationship sands away leaving a residual remain of broken hearts, an abandoned woman and probably an abandoned child too.
Men often walk out scot-free of a troubled relationship. Things are a lot easier for them, but it isn’t quite as easy for a woman. She faces some serious issues even when she tries getting on her own feet.
At the panel discussion, at the launch of the book, we learn from celebrated filmmaker Shikha Makan, that women are looked upon as mere objects of sex, that could taint the man’s thoughts. “At first, it took my sister and I a lot of time to get an apartment on rent. A couple of months after settling in, I got back home from work a little late in the night to find that the security guard staring lecherously at me. I urged my male friend to come up to my apartment and drop me home. Little did I know that I was inviting chaos. In just a few minutes of settling in, I got a call stating that the building secretary wanted to meet with me (at that odd hour). At first I wondered what happened, and later he started accusing me for the most unconceivable things (He almost thought I was running a brothel in a residential complex). I phoned my father. He flew down to meet with the building secretary. The secretary suddenly turned tables stating, he was only worried about our security! This type of incident happens with number single girls trying to live on their own.
Even Tanuja Chandra, the celebrated film director, comes across some stunning feminist instances. Take the film ‘Queen’ for instance. The film gives insight on the life of a simple city bred girl, coming from a middle class family, and gets dumped by the man for no reason; days before she’s to wed him. The film is simple, but is significantly moving.
Gauri Sawant was born as Ganesh Sawant into a conservative Pune-based family. When Gauri learnt of her effeminate side, she decided to leave her home and started with ‘Sakhi Char Chawghi’, an organization that promotes safe sex for transgenders. Over the years, Gauri has been one of the few transgender people who relentlessly fights for transgender rights even though the same has been recognized as a third sex by the Indian Constitution in 2013. Gauri mothers a 16 year-old daughter, and firmly believes, “Motherhood is a feeling that can be experienced by a man, woman, or even by people like me! It is a beautiful feeling that gets nurtured from time to time.”
Ghazal Dhaliwal who is a screenwriter, has pretty much experienced many hardships even during her transition. She has scripted films such as ‘Lipstick under my Burkha’ (A strong feminist film), and ‘Wazir’. Ghazal started out as ‘Gunraj’, but stood with the biggest decision of her life and underwent a sex change. The transformations brought forth several questions. But Ghazal stood tall, even at the lowest ebb in her life and rose beautifully.
The above-mentioned panel members were present at the book launch, and were wonderfully moderated by Sarah Jacob, Senior Editor, and host of ‘We the People’ on NDTV.
The ‘House of Nomads’ (Taj Lands End, Mumbai) came alive that evening with a fantastic panel discussion involving all the eminent characters in the book. The potent #StatusSingle cocktail enlivened the spirits further.
Written by Heer Kothari