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March 08, 2019

Exclusive: Listen To The Spoken Stories Of 3 Indian Women Achievers

Text by Sadaf Shaikh

Aparna Jain’s book ‘Like A Girl’ releases as an audiobook by Audible which brings alive the stories of 51 women of substance through the voices of celebrated female narrators.

Last June, Delhi-based author and leadership coach Aparna Jain took a leaf out of the international publishing phenomenon Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls and published an Indianised version of the book titled Like a Girl. Having backed the Kickstarter campaign that crowdfunded Rebel Girls, Jain found the need for a rendition that spoke about the trials, tribulations and accomplishments of Indian women. Thus Like a Girl was borna compilation of stories that features the empowering journeys of 51 Indian women with achievements in various walks of life.

Those who have read the book will know that while it highlights the turning points in the lives of women whom we have come to recognise and respect, it also sheds light on the efforts of those women who have somehow slipped under the radar. Take, for example, Birubala Rabha, the founder of Mission Birubala, an Assamese organization that fights superstition and provides support to victims of witch-hunting. The fact that this even continues to be an issue in the 21st century in itself is a shameful prospect but to see a woman stand up in such blatant protest of an archaic practice is a small victory.

Audible, seller and producer of spoken audio entertainment recently launched in India and for the occasion of Women’s Day, has collaborated with Jain to convert these tales of inspiration into the aural form. Injecting necessary degrees of emotion into their narratives, celebrated women such as Rasika Duggal, RJ Malishka, Suchitra Pillai, Ritu Dalmia, Kirthi Jayakumar and Varsha Varghese have lent their voices required to bring these electrifying stories to life.

We bring you preview excerpts from three of the 51 stories that will give you some insight into what you can expect from the complete audiobook…

Amrita Sher-Gil (narrated by RJ Malishka)

Learn about celebrated Indian artist Amrita Sher-Gil’s creative leanings as she enrolled herself into Paris’ École des Beaux-Arts. She is considered one of the earliest pioneers of modern Indian art. Somewhere along the way, she exchanged hanging out at coffee shops for skulking in the back alleys of Paris, observing the poor and the homeless who would later make it to her canvas. City life, however, could not entice Sher-Gil for too long and soon she found herself longing for the hills which led her back to Shimla. Thereupon, she started wearing sarees as a sign of fighting the patriarchy which saw the art world being inhabited by more men than women in that time.

 

Irom Chanu Sharmila (narrated by Varsha Varghese)

Known as the Iron Lady of India, Irom is a civil rights activist, political activist, and poet from Manipur who gained national recognition for a 16-year fast which she undertook to protest the AFSPA rule in her home state. This audio draws our attention to early displays of willfulness by a young Irom where she refused to walk to school which was a few kilometres away. She sat at the foot of a Banyan tree and did not budge in spite of being heavily cajoled by her siblings to give up the charade. Finally, they left her sitting there and were shocked to find her still seated at the same spot when they returned eight hours later.

Mangte Chungneijan Mary Kom (narrated by Rasika Dugal)

Every Indian knows about the laurels that Mary Kom has won since she became an internationally acclaimed boxer, but not many know about the path she had to treat to get to where she is today. When she won the gold medal at the Women’s Boxing Championship in Manipur in 2000, instead of coming home to applause, she encountered parents who were worried that her injuries would hamper her marriage prospects. Her performance at the AIBA World Boxing Championship in 2001 won her a silver medal but Kom was convinced that she lost the gold because of an argument she had with her father before she left for the United States.

 

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