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Milestones and Markers

Rohini Agrawal

By Chandrakiran Sonrexa
The Book Review, New Delhi, 2011, pp. 416, Rs. 495.00


Chandrakiran Sonrexas autobiography, Pinjre Ki Maina, time and again flashes Jainendras Mrinal on to the mind screen. A rebellious nature notwithstanding, the life paths chosen because of humiliation, rejection or mistrust finally lead back to the same destinations, after all. And then, Mrinal, rebelling against an inhuman marriage and choosing the humiliating life of a mistress, had hardly given a blazing direction to the idea of rebellion! It is difficult to feel sympathetic towards Mrinal. Selfdestruction and selftorture can never be the weapons of a rebel. And neither can a mute, invisible presence take dynamism to a substantial goal. Rebellion, in its initial stage, may be individualistic but it is only when it breaks the barriers of the individual and places society and system in the dock that it acquires any value. And now the Chandrakiran of Pinjre ki Maine echoes the same martyred joy as a Mrinal. Will a woman ever be able to liberate herself from the maleforged image of a woman and see herself as a whole and living creature The second part of the autobiography appears like an analysis of a womans karma or destiny in the garb of selfexpression but it is in this section that Chandrakiran refuses to become a reflection of Mrinal. In resigning herself to the fact that in our country a woman is taught to deny herself at every step, the darkness of the helplessness at the destruction of ones self that this implies is shot with the resolution to seek out life and self. One cannot understand the mindset of a 1920born Chandrakiran through the perspective of an independent lady of today. Although that era was posited as an extremely fertile one for societal reforms and progressive thinking, the fact is that it was, at the same time, an era riddled with contradictions. On the one hand were the new ideas bursting forth while on the other were the ageold traditions and beliefs that governed personal lives. Sonrexa notes these contradictions in the lives and actions of her father and other reformers in her extended family. All the reformist notions regarding the emancipation of women died within the confines of the home and womens education in effect came to mean teaching women to be good housewives. If, in such an ethos, a motherless young girl growing up under the care of brothers and their wives decides to curl up and ...

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