I am Mangala Gouri, an Indian woman, wife and mother. I was born in 1967. I am a Gold Medallist and work as a Lecturer in the Indian Himalayas. I wrote two books, both of which are available in amazon.com--"The City of Widows & Other Stories" and “Aparajita—The Woman Who Fought Back, And Won.” Both books offer insights into the life of Indian women-their resilience, grit, and hope in the face of hopeless odds. I wish to write, write, write, to bring alive the institutionalized exploitation inherent in my country, and to question both the stoicism of Indians and the apathy of the world community to needless suffering. More of my books will be 'out' soon. I hope to write about the issues that really matter to us all.


Skeletal women lay supine against the walls, their blank eyes the only sign that they were still alive. Others harangued the tourists, begging for a rupee, a half kilo of flour, to keep body and soul together. This is not a nightmare from Africa, but Vrindavan, just 150 km from New Delhi, India. The author interviewed many women who were sentenced to this subhuman life, just for being widows. Their harrowing tales, told in the first chapter, “The City of Widows” are an indictment of a nation, which prides itself on being the largest democracy of the twenty-first century. The second story, “Branded a Witch” tells the story of Venkamma, who was tortured into admitting that she was a witch who killed her husband, and run out of her village. She later learnt that there was a method to the madness, as the torturer was now ensconced on her land. The third story, “Killed by Her Son” is about Karuna, who was seduced by her married teacher, and bore his bastard. Her son killed her when he learned a one-sided version of his birth which fixed the blame entirely on her. “Prabha the Prostitute” is the fourth story, about a young widow who reached Vrindavan and was forced into the flesh trade. She was offered marriage by a man who later decamped with her savings. “Rent a Womb” depicts the dilemma of a labourer, Sujata, who was paid three lakh rupees—nine years of earnings—to be a surrogate mother. But she was troubled that the baby would not have a mother when she realized that the two foreigners who contracted her services were male homosexuals. The sixth chapter tells about Nepali, a Himalayan girl, who was trapped into becoming her sister’s step-wife, and worked like a slave for years. When the man died she realized that she had no rights to the property which she had built brick by brick. She had been “Sold by Her Sister.” “The Girl Called Meera” is the amazing and distressing story of a normal young girl who was brainwashed by her parents into thinking that she was Meerabai, the devotee of Lord Krishna, and her inability to adjust to life thereafter. “Dawn and Dusk” reveals the story of Nisha, a teacher who was married off to a no-good confidence trickster, who disappeared with the money of the town and her valuables. He then kidnapped their son to get her savings as ransom. Ghumri the tribal woman was “Baptised by Fire” when she was fished out of the river by city folk and cured of a spinal fracture. Her tribe refused to accept her back, believing that she was dead, and her body had been possessed by a demon and sentenced her to a fatal exorcism ritual, but she was saved by the priest who had baptized her. The tenth chapter, “The White Bedsheet” tells of Nimmo, a Sikh woman who was raped by her uncle as a child, and much later, married and mother of a son, was kidnapped and sold into prostitution for vendetta. She escaped and had her revenge with the help of an honest police officer. The next story, “Examined on Embers” tells of Chinta, who was born a widow. A boy who married her was forced to leave her by his family, as it was considered inauspicious to marry a widow. She was later married to a man in his sixties, only he wanted her to walk on fire to prove that her baby was his. The twelfth story, “In the Name of Honour” tells of Nokhu, a Dalit who married Veena, a Rajput’s daughter, whose family bludgeons them to death. “The Widow Who Washes Water” recounts the story of a young girl driven crazy so that she constantly sees dirt in everything and cleaning becomes an obsession with her. “She Sold Her Bones for Her Son” paints a picture of extreme poverty and its consequences. Finally, “A Soldier’s Widow and a Terrorist’s Mother” tells of the dilemma every Indian woman has felt, trying to choose between her husband and her son. In the conclusion, the author reveals her experiences as a victim of domestic violence, which led her to sympathize with the suffering of other women. She also tells how the experiences—her own and of the others—changed her outlook as a teacher, as a woman, as a mother and as a wife. **************************


Aparajita was being abused by Naveen, her husband, physically, emotionally and financially. She came to know the reason—he wanted to leave her to marry a girl half her age and twice as lovely. In middle class India, to which they belonged, divorce was an unthinkable stigma for a woman. Aparajita approached the society, her family, the social workers, the police, to seek help for the abuse that she was enduring. All of them shrugged. As she searched for an alternative, the house that she shared with her mother and her son burned down, with everything they had ever possessed in it. Now mother and son were homeless. How did she fight back successfully? How did she make her husband come crawling back to her? How did she earn the respect of the society doing that? Did she take him back? Read the story to find out… Interspersed in the narrative are the methods by which a girl is brainwashed into being a brainless zombie, programmed to obey men, right from her childhood. Stories based on truth in which women are subjected to all kinds of atrocities in India—female foeticide, dowry burning, honor killing, acid attacks are told in chilling detail. ********************