Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Forbidden Daughter by Shobhan Bantwal

I thoroughly enjoyed Shobhan Bantwal's first book, The Dowry Bride. It was well written and the glimpses into Indian culture were fascinating. Learning that paying or not paying a dowry could be a matter of life or death was shocking to me and she handled it very well in her book. So, I've been looking forward to reading her second book.

This weekend I took time to read The Forbidden Daughter and my wait was rewarded. The book is about female infanticide. That is the practice of killing female babies and unborn female babies. I've heard various reasons for female infanticide in India and that is one of the elements of this story. Are women less worthy or important than men? The characters have a variety of feelings about this question. Another element is the financial angle to performing abortions along with the social repercussions.

Isha Talik is drawn into this web of lies, deception and money when her obstetrician informs her and her husband that their unborn child is a girl. In an off handed comment, he says that he's willing to perform an abortion if they want to be rid of this child. Isha and Nikhil vehemently insist they will have their child, but they realize Nikhil's parents will want them to abort the child. The couple have one daughter and Isha knows her in laws treat her daughter Priya as less worthy than her male cousins. When the news is shared with the elder Taliks, they insist the child must be aborted.

This debate rages and is only interrupted late one evening when the family receives news that Nikhil was stabbed to death at his job. Isha, Priya and the in laws are all shaken by the news of Nikhil's death. The news is especially devastating to his parents because Nikhil was their only son and he had no sons to carry on the family name. Life for Isha and Priya is tougher each day and after her father in law beats Priya, the young, pregnant widow walks out of the house - with almost no money and only some of her possessions.

Isha and Priya are taken in at the local convent and make their home in a small, bleak room and they wait for the birth of her daughter. The day after Diya is born, Isha is seen by the doctor who helps the convent. He was a student at the college Isha attended and he had a crush on her in school.

Doctor Harish Salvi becomes a very good friend and his affection for Isha and her children continues to grow over time. Isha is reunited with her sister in law Sheila. With Sheila and Dr Salvi, Isha finds the support she needs.

Over time things begin to look better for Isha and her family and her support network grows again. But, the story isn't over and Isha must deal with a couple more concerns before the end. Isha and her closest confidantes realize who killed her husband and why. She has evidence of his wrong doing and the time stamp on the computer disc makes it very obvious, who is responsible for his murder. Will they go to the police? Will the murderer pay for his crime? Who else will have to pay for this man's actions?

I don't want to ruin the story for anyone, but I highly recommend this story. You will grow to admire, you will admire and cherish Dr Salvi and you will care what happens to Isha's daughters. This book is a wonderful work from a talented author who share her knowledge of India with us.

Shobhan Bantwal is touring with Promo 101 Virtual Tours in October. Visit for more details.

No comments: