Reading Deepa Narayan’s book CHUP-Breaking The Slience About India’s Women started a fire in my belly. I travelled to my village while reading the book and I wanted to rip apart the orthodox customs there. Many women in my village still practice purdah or the custom of covering their heads and faces in front of men folk. My family doesn’t endorse this hypocritical tradition.
That doesn’t mean Indian towns and cities fare better. The descrimination is as bad here. I’ll never forget what my hotelier boss in a prestigious hotel told me when I made my point of view. He said it was his job to think, not mine. What a jerk!
CHUP is a bomb. It explodes in your face. It slams you in the centre of your forehead. It shows you a mirror and you won’t like what you see. However old or young you are the book has something for you. It voices every woman’s frustrations with the patriarchal system. You will recognize with hard facts, figures and examples how Indian women are trained to habitually blame and self flagellate themselves.
Deepa Narayan is a strong and forceful writer. I love the way she uses Hindi words in her sentences, and in the title of one of the chapters in the book, Body: Women Don’t Have Bodies, Besharam or in another chapter called Isolation: I Am Alone And Afraid, Keep Women Apart, Akeli Hoon, Darti Hoon. She shows us how women are isolated and trampled upon. How families and society plot and design to oppress women in the name of izzat, respect and morality.
It was not always like this. There’s an example in the book of her grandmother who would have laughed if she knew that today’s women must wear undergarments below their clothing. True. None of our grandmothers were bound by their dress. The figures of statues in ancient temples are beautiful, voluptuous and nudity was perfectly normal and natural. We still worship Goddesses but it’s a sham.
Look how society owns women’s bodies. You must sit properly with legs crossed. You mustn’t wear sleeveless dresses. You must look thin, fair and pretty at all times and afcourse you must shut up and silently put up with marauding relatives.
One of the books she recommends caught my eye. The Body Adorned: Dissolving Boundaries Between Sacred And Profane In Indian Art. This one I must read. Also, Nice Girls Don’t Get The Corner Office.
So I made voluptuous banana and chocolate muffins, the recipe of which comes from Nigella Lawson that cooking diva, and feminist in her own right.
Chocolate Banana Muffins
- 3 very ripe or overripe bananas
- 125 mililitres vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 100 grams soft light brown sugar
- 225 grams plain flour
- 3 tablespoons good quality cocoa powder, sifted
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C/ 400 degrees F/ gas mark 6. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper cases.
- Mash the bananas with hand or a fork to a pulp. Continuing to mash the bananas add the oil, eggs and sugar and mix.
- Mix the plain flour, cocoa powder and soda bicarbonate.
- Now add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, beating gently and lightly.
- Fill the mixture into the muffin cases upto 3/4 level and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the muffins are well risen and are a lovely brown colour.
- Cool for a few minutes and remove from the muffin pan.