Thirteen Lessons from a Morally Wounded Woman
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.
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.