Thirteen Lessons from a Morally Wounded Woman  

Thirteen Lessons from a Morally Wounded Woman  

Author-Aarushi Ahluwalia  

Language-English  

Themes- Contemporary urban fiction, Feminism, Patriarchy, Sex  

When I looked at the title and flipped through Aarushi Ahluwalia’s 13 Lessons From A Morally Wounded Woman the first time, I expected the narrative to dive into a melancholic, burdened journey. Isn’t that expected when the plot promises to track the evolution of a stifled child into an elite sex worker? Lessons from a morally wounded woman are bound to be steeped in gloom and despair.

Isn’t it?

Not quite. It is anything but that.

Quite unexpectedly, the narrative sidesteps its presumed axis and branches out of defeatism in its own convoluted way. All this, while dissecting patriarchy and amplifying the hidden everyday sexism in the life of a protagonist, who thrives on her spunk and ability to dodge societal constraints.

A world full of deeply disturbing characters

Her world is full of distinct and, at times, deeply disturbing characters. Yet each is distinct from another and referred to aptly by their character traits.

I was shaken by the introduction of the pedophile and protagonist’s rapist—Mr. Boiled Chicken. Their interaction and the ensuing molestation are challenging to read and not for the faint-hearted. A mixture of dismay, revolt, and disgust tints the ache one feels for the victim. If this was the author’s intention, then she accomplishes it with élan.

The relationship between the protagonist and her hypocritical mother forms the central pivot of the story. Her controlling rules, when threatened by autonomy and sexual assertion by her daughter, are borderline offensive and, at times, unimaginable. Yet one is not spared the realization that this could very well be the truth for many.

 

A relevant social commentary

Not for the faint hearted!

This slice-of-life account prides itself on being dark, shocking, and disturbing, and the starkness of the black and red cover adds to the unease. The underlying grit made me mistake it as a real life account at first. There are no pretenses or cushioning to soften the hard edges to make the truth more palatable. Do not venture close if you could be triggered by the content. Pick it up only if you can stomach an unconventional protagonist’s bitter and murky reality speckled with toffee-nosed hypocrites and sadistic tormentors. The book promises a surprising and satiating package for a mature, undaunted reader.

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