River of Flesh and other stories - The prostituted woman in Indian Fiction ; edited by Ruchira Gupta

When I started this book, I realized I had read two of the stories already as part of author specific anthology. But even then I had paused to think about the women involved in passing. In last few years , there has been both emergence of more stories / movies showcasing the lives and emotions of men and women in the trade.

But whether you have any ideas ( true or not ) about the women of the trade or have never paid any thought to this profession of society ,this book is a must read. While it is a collection of fiction stories , the range of areas the stories are set in is a clear indication that prostitution is across all states and castes of people. If one considers the author list of the book, it amazes how writers have been writing about the women forever. There always have been voices to show the plight of these people - the desperation , poverty and helplessness in face of being out of this trade itself one day.

What this anthology manages to do is to amplify the voices. Together these stories have covered a huge part of the life of a prostitute , and the various ways they cope with their choices or lack of it.
My favorite stories from this collection are "the housewife" and "the kept woman" - both of which are about transition from being a kept woman to housewife and back to being same. Even in pretenses ,the ladies keep the decorum of the household and in that itself they are doubted more. Another story that I will mention is ancestry, the story about a totally pious lady and her hatred for this sinful profession. So much irony in this one, though I did not like my own interpretation much. "Heeng-Kochuri"was much affectionate nostalgic sort of story that made me smile the one time during the whole book.

Not just this book made me a little more curious about the work being done for the welfare of the numerous girls stuck in this trade , the literary aspect of the collection is its brilliant translations from original language to English. Such translated works make me look for more of them in future and to be so thankful for such collections. This book while being fictional, very conveniently showcases a reality that most of us ignore or deny the very existence even when we all  have heard about it.

My rating: 5/5

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