Book Title: The Sthory of Two Wimmin Named Kalyani and Dakshayani
Translated by: Devika J.
Publisher: Penguin Hamish Hamilton
Number of Pages: 256
Date Published: Dec. 19, 2022
Price: INR 338
“The Sthory of Two Wimmin Named Kalyani and Dakshayani” is a novel by R. Rajasree. In the rural settings of north Malabar, it recounts the tale of two rural women named Kalyani and Dakshayani and their relationship. The book follows the illuminating pathways of two female companions who, at an early age, rebel against patriarchy by facing life and love head-on.
Lacking a secure, loving, and respectful environment but finding support in one another, these women capture the essence of sharing experiences despite complex societal expectations.
What makes the history of women’s writing so intriguing is that it is, in many ways, a novel field of study. Because of women’s inferior status in male-dominated cultures, the practice of women’s writing has been largely ignored. The burden of women’s literature, then, is to categorize and establish a field of study for a set of people marginalized by history and to explore their experiences through their writing.
The novel portrays how these two women, Kalyani and Dakshayani, rebel against patriarchy in school at six and take on life and love together. The book has been hailed as an exciting new voice in Malayalam literature and has won major literary awards in Malayalam, notably the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award. The book was written originally in Malayalam by R. Rajasree and translated into English by J. Devika.
The plot revolves around their rebellion against their school teacher after he initiates an obscene act. It also tells the story of two friends who navigate life and love together. The book describes their rebellion against the school teacher. After walking out of school in solidarity with Dakshayani (who yelled at the schoolmaster who lifted her skirt to pinch her thigh), the two friends leave and live their lives.
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The book also describes the lives of rural women in Malabar, their struggles, married life, and the absence of a place “to belong” in society. The characters Kalyani and Dakshayani portray the reality of a woman’s life in a patriarchal and misogynist setup.
Written in easily understandable language, the novel is about women, about being raised to name an alien place home, relationships that become lifelines, and everything in between. Not to forget, the title and the cover page are aesthetically beautiful.
The Review was first published in Storizen Magazine March 2023 issue.