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Tell a Thousand Lies
Mar 04, 2014 02:57 PM 2147 Views
(Updated Mar 04, 2014 06:00 PM)

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No Country for Dark Skinned Women


Many people in our country, especially in rural India still believe that if the girl is just fair & pretty, finding a groom for her will be easy & her future as a wife will be assured. Though we remember people by their characters and not by their skin colour, but when it comes to marriage, many girls in our country do not find suitable alliance in spite of being educated & belonging to respectable families. I will not be wrong to say that most of the people in our country are obsessed with fair skin. Unfortunately even people who are highly educated discriminate against dark skinned people.


There’s a very popular saying, to arrange a good marriage for a girl, one has to tell a thousand lies. Same holds true in Rasana Atreya’s debut novel, Tell a Thousand Lies. This book very well focuses on the curse of being born a woman in India. The author beautifully creates a picture of rural India, the selfish politicians, superstitions, the color discrimination and of course, how the fate of a girl child is decided the day she is born.


About The Author


Tell A Thousand Lies is Rasana Atreya’s first novel. She is a blogger, and novelist, living in Hyderabad. This novel was short-listed for the 2012 Tibor Jones South Asia award, is an Amazon category bestseller. Atreya being a highly educated city girl, it is surprising to know that she has written a thought provoking novel about a poor, uneducated girl from rural India. Another surprising fact is that this is a self published book. Even after being accepted by a major Indian publishing house, the author decided herself to publish the book.


About the Book


This is a story of a sixteen year old dark skinned girl Pullamma, lives with her grandmother in a small village of Andhra Pradesh in 1980s. Pullamma is living with her older sister, Malli, and twin sister Lata, both are fairer and prettier than her. With three girls in the family, Pullamma is aware there aren't enough dowries to secure suitable husband for them all. Unable to understand Lata's desire, her grandmother formalizes a wedding alliance for the girl. Lata rebels & she ends up pregnant. The ensuing scandal forces her into marriage. Lata is not happy in life because she is not able to study medicine and married to a man she cannot abide.


On the other side Pullamma is living her twin sister Lata's dream. Though she is rich, powerful and married, the only problem with Pullamma is that she cannot acknowledge her husband in public because the superstitious villagers think she is Goddess. The story takes many twists & turns in Pullamma’s life when a selfish politician Kondal Rao starts taking decisions of her life for his vested interest.


Pullamma, is thrown into the position of Goddess quite by accident. Maybe it’s a coincidence that a man from the nearby village appears with a baby he believes to be dead and the only way to bring the baby back to life is to lay him at the feet of a Goddess. He lays the child down, at Pullamma’s feet and the child starts moving. After this unusual incidence people starts believing that Pullamma to be a Goddess and the evil Kondal Rao uses this to his political advantage & forces Pullamma to become an artificial Goddess.  This story is more about Pullamma's fate than Pullamma herself.


My Opinion


Sometimes I wonder whether such events can really happen, but yes, such things indeed do happen. It is very sad to know that skin color is given such merit in all parts of our country, and Atreya’s novel brings to light some unsavory truths. Each relationship of Pullamma has been described beautifully. The language used is simple and the pace with story progresses is good. The character development of Pullamma is also noteworthy. Overall Rasana Atreya has given us a tightly written, well-paced story. Her characters are well drawn, fully complete and believable.


Though books and movies have a separate mass appeal, many film directors crave to make movies that are inspired from exceptional novels & especially Bollywood has been instrumental in making movies from books. This is one of the best books that should be made into a movie.


I dedicate this review to my dear friend J Mathur(@jmathur) He has started writing a novel, hope he will complete it soon & self publish his book like Rasana Atreya's Tell a Thousand Lies.


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