FOR A DROP OF RICE-WATER
It is a telling commentary on the Bengal Famine and ensuing food riots amidst a country torn by its struggle for independence. Set in the backdrop of the Second World War, the narrative that begins as a take on sexual violence slowly turns into the survivor owning herself, her identity, and throwing herself headlong into the freedom struggle. Having lost everything to the flood, famine, communal violence, police brutality, and patriarchal society, this is the story of a family’s desperate attempts at survival. As a brothel becomes home to one sister, two other siblings pursue their revolutionary fervor. Following each of these characters, the narrative depicts difficult decisions and harsh reality moments. Multiple plots merge into a complete whole, and individual personalities are left with no time to grieve their losses. This novel sketches a parallel to present times. Even now, India is marred by poverty, hunger, and illiteracy. Yet, citizens protest against newly introduced parliamentary bills, injustices, and communal hate—much like the pre-Independence era that inspires this novel.