Critters at the Keyboard Welcomes
AN UNLIKELY GODDESS
Mohanalakshmi will be awarding a free ecopy of An Unlikely Goddess to one randomly drawn commenter at every stop, and a Grand Prize of a $50 Amazon GC will be awarded to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour.
Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here:
Sita is the firstborn but since she is a female, her birth makes life difficult for her mother who is expected to produce a son. From the start, Sita finds herself in a culture hostile to her, but her irrepressible personality won’t be subdued. Born in India, she immigrants as a toddler to the U.S. with her parents after the birth of her much anticipated younger brother. Her father’s academic ambitions take the family all over the United States, as he chases grant funding at universities in several states. His financial challenges make life at home stressful for Sita, her mother, and younger brother – but the women of the family bear the brunt of his frustrations – both physically and emotionally. Hers is a South Indian family, from Tamil Nadu, one of the most conservative states in the subcontinent.
Enjoy this excerpt:
The Hindu goddess, Sita, is said to have been born from the
King Janaka discovers the beautiful infant and in her
beauty, believes in her divinity. He raises her as his own daughter……
Unlike her namesake, Sita's first mistake was being born.
A girl, her mother thought, eyes dark in abject terror. What
if he leaves me? She swallowed, increasing the dryness in her post-delivery
mouth, the stiches across her abdomen itching. No water. Only ice chips until
her bowels passed the tests. Mythili pressed back against the pillows. She
closed her eyes, pushing her fingers into the sockets until the darkness was
punctuated by bone-white stars. She wished she could as easily tune out the
gurgles of the baby in the bassinet beside her.
Yet, even premature and unwanted, Sita was obliviously happy
to enter the world, beaming her infant smile at anyone or anything she saw: the
nurse, her aunt, her mother's back, the noxiously-pink cement walls of the
Madras hospital in which she found herself. Several pounds underweight, she was
otherwise fine—a petite, brown-skinned baby with tufts of black hair crowning a
smooth scalp. How could she be expected to know that from her first breath she
was, and always would be, a living reminder of her mother's failure to produce
a first-born male heir?
Though swaddled and placed in the bassinet immediately after
delivery, her eyes were alive with motion. She blinked up at the faces of
passersby, but they were admittedly few, so instead, she followed the blinking
lights, the creeping shadows and the occasional appearance of a nurse.
Everything about the world kept her busy with delight until sleep washed over
her little body
“Look at that smile,”
the young nurse said, cradling Sita against her flat bosom.
“Aamam,” Priya, the childless aunt, agreed, rubbing a
forefinger across the baby’s somewhat wrinkly face.
Instead of replying, Mythili, Sita’s mother, pulled a
see-through blue sheet up to her chin and turned her face away.
Did that Really Happen to You?
By Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar
I was at a book talk a few weeks ago and someone in the audience asked the author, a survivor f the Khmer Rouge, how much of the book “had happened” to her. She was referring to a novel in which the main character suffers abject abuse and horror while still a child. I was appalled at the question; it seemed voyeuristic somehow, as if the suffering of the character, and the thousands of unnamed people in real life, didn’t matter as much as if the author hadn’t experienced suffering herself.
The “did that really happen?” is one of the most awkward questions you can ask a writer after reading his/her book. We want the reader to be lost in the narrative, not wondering how much of it is autobiography.
My latest release, An Unlikely Goddess, will no doubt spark a similar set of questions. The story of an Indian girl who immigrates to the United States with her parents, suffers much heartache, and finds solace in academia, is not that different from own. Sita’s trajectory, however, is a composite of many people’s journeys as immigrants, not only mine. In some ways she is the Everywoman of the female coming of age for South Indians.
I found this story also important to tell because it shows how the immigrant experience is not always the making good on the American dream we have come to expect from the “Model Minority” of Asians in the United States. The recent interest in Indian Literature in English, depicts a very specific part of the Indian diaspora – often well educated, Bengalis – did not speak to my experience or those who I knew growing up.
This book is a testament to all of the above.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar is a South Asian American who has lived in Qatar since 2005. Moving to the Arabian Desert was fortuitous in many ways since this is where she met her husband, had a baby, and made the transition from writing as a hobby to a full time passion. She has since published seven e-books including a mom-ior for first time mothers, Mommy But Still Me, a guide for aspiring writers, So You Want to Sell a Million Copies, a short story collection, Coloured and Other Stories, and a novel about women’s friendships, Saving Peace.
Her recent books have focused on various aspects of life in Qatar. From Dunes to Dior, named as a Best Indie book in 2013, is a collection of essays related to her experiences as a female South Asian American living in the Arabian Gulf. Love Comes Later was the winner of the Best Indie Book Award for Romance in 2013 and is a literary romance set in Qatar and London. The Dohmestics is an inside look into compound life, the day to day dynamics between housemaids and their employers.
After she joined the e-book revolution, Mohana dreams in plotlines. Learn more about her work on her website at www.mohanalakshmi.com or follow her latest on Twitter: @moha_doha.
Twitter: www.twitter.com/moha_dohaFacebook: www.facebook.com/themohadoha