Skip to main content

I ask, you write 3

This is turning out to be such fun. Here's the next question to which you write a story in explanation.

She knew he wouldn't approve. So why did Visalakshi go ahead and do it anyway?

As ever, please keep your stories short and post them in the comment box. Thank you.

Please scroll down for the earlier questions.

Comments

Jay said…
My shy wife! She kissed me. In public.Why? What made her to? Doesn't she know I don't like to display emotions, moreso in public with people around. What the heck, *kiss* "I love you too, dear!"

And that's why Visalakshi went ahead and did it anyway!
Shirsha said…
She knew he wouldn't approve, but after 12 years, care for his approval of her every action had dipped to an all time low, almost as if it were dwindling with the passage of time, thought Visalakshi as she took another drag on her cigarette and cast an expressionless glance on the garlanded photo of her father by the doorway.
A4ISMS said…
Visalakshi looked at the masaldosa on her plate. She stole a glance at their guests. The Kanoshakis were obviously lost in the delight of eating south Indain food. She looked helplessly at her husband who pointedly looked at the knife and fork beside her plate. It was obvious. she was expected to use them. How can one do justice to masaldosa with a knife and fork? She could never manage it. What the heck! She thought.What if I am the ambassador's wife! If I want to eat with my fingers I bloody well shall! She would face his wrath later at home... there's one full evening's gap between now and then.
Visalakshi calmly broke a piece of dosa with her fingers and dipped it into her sambhar, deliberately avoiding his furious eyes!
monu said…
She knew he wouldn’t approve, but she did it anyway. He had his own ideals, things he spoke about with passion; you could see the passion in his eyes, as he spoke about his principles.But he wasn’t all talk and no work, he stood by his principles, Oh, He really did.

And who better to know about him than her? Or did she really know enough about him?
She wondered……and so she went ahead and began reading his personal diary……
Maya Reiss said…
She watched with her chin in her palm, elbow resting on the table, as her mother-in-law gobbled up her dinner noisily. Visalakshi was used to this. She would eat up everything drenched in buttermilk, tilt the plate and slurp up what was left, wipe the plate clean with her fingers, lick each one of them, sit back in her chair and burp loudly. Then she would make a face at Visa, tell her there was too much salt or too less or something and walk off leaving a mess at the table.Then she had to be read to and finally her feet massaged till she fell asleep. And she took forever to fall asleep, nagging and complaining about every thing that fell in front of her myopic eyes. She had heard it a million times and could almost... almost tune it out. Except when the old lady started off about how Venky should have agreed to marry his uncle's daughter Mythili, and how much better off they would have all been if that match had worked out!! Aaaaaaaaaaaaargh!! They had been married 6 years and they had two kids and the old lady was still thinking about his marriage proposals. Nobody and nothing was good enough for her and her precious catch of a son!! Every time Venky's mother came to stay with them, Visalakshi would be walking a tight rope, gritting her teeth, being 'polite', 'civil', 'respectful', slaving away at the kitchcen to feed the old woman's enormous appetite, cleaning up after her, washing her clothes and massaging her legs forever. The kids steered cleer of their mother, stiffling their laughter when she threw them warning looks.

As she wiped the table clean, she heard her mother-in-law call her, and she rolled her eyes at the hours of feet massaging that would undoubtedly ensue. She sat on the floor rubbing Tiger balm onto those hated legs, tuned in reluctantly now and then to hear the name 'Mythili' and songs of her glory, and felt miserable at the thought that there was no way out of this. Every now and then, she would come for her 'visit' and things would be the same, if not worse. To get away, just once, and have Venky do this instead of her. That'd be a dream!

She heard her snore and got up, ran to the bedroom, packed a bag; one for her, one for the kids. As she stood in front of the mirror, combing her hair in a hurry.. She paused and practised her lines...
" Hello Venky? I had a call from home.. Amma is not feeling well.. I have to go right away.. I'm taking the kids.. Vacation time no.. so its ok.. I've called the maid from nextdoor.. She'll stay with your mother till you come.. Yes.. I know.. You might have to take leave while she's here.. But .. you understand right?"

He might not approve.. But what the hell .. She grinned.
Shyam said…
Visalakshi had dreamt of doing it for literally years. As she walked quickly down the road, she knew nobody was likely to give her a second glance. She was only 30-something years old but even her contemporaries called her “mami” rather than by her name. She looked traditional and orthodox because of her oiled, braided and bunned hair, the big kumkum pottu, the diamond studs at ears and nostril, and the fact that she only wore sarees.

Her upbringing had also contributed to her image – her strict orthodox parents who married her off at 18 to a man who was a good 15 years older, then having to live thereafter in a joint family with equally orthodox in-laws. Added to that her own shy, quiet nature… all these had contributed to her maamification (as she resentfully thought of it) much before her time. She was sidelined because of her looks. Nobody stopped to consider that she might have an open mind on controversial matters like premarital sex or divorce or inter-caste relationships.

Her husband did not care for “modern women” – but what annoyed Visalakshi was that his disapproval extended not only to looks and clothes, but also to opinions.

And now it seemed like her 15-year-old daughter would be forced to go the same way as her. Well, Visalakshi would NOT allow that. She wanted a lot more for her brilliant, sensitive daughter. But to be heard, to be noticed by husband and family and outsiders, she knew had to do something radical. Something that would make people realise she was not the typical orthodox mami with typically old-fashioned views.

She was going to the hairdresser’s for the very first time in her life, determined to drop her old persona along with her long hair. Visalakshi knew her husband wouldn’t approve (to say the least!). But she would go ahead and do it anyway. For her daughter’s sake.
shyam said…
Oops, I meant to keep it short!
pravin said…
Taking a pair of scissors, she snipped off all her hair. 'Ha!,' she cried, 'Ha! I just made a point'.

Course, as she was totally off her rocker, she didn't usually make a lot of sense.
Anon_dreamer said…
Visalakshi hurriedly wiped away the big pottu on her forehead and applied the deliciously-flavored lipstick. She smiled with pleasure at the thought of the afternoon ahead. Her husband would not approve of her visitor. But as long as she did, who cared.
ammani said…
Dear Appa,
Today I did something I know you would not approve of. But I want to explain to you my reasons for doing so and I hope you'll understand. I know you named me after your grandmother. You had decided on it years before I was born. I know you were very close to her and even called her 'amma' just like your father used to. And that each time you called out to me and I answered, it was as if the old lady was with you.
Well Appa, in this cold country I now live, few people can get my name right. It is often mutilated and spat out in much the same way as one might a chewing gum. My name tumbles out in a jumble from the anglicized palates of those unfamiliar with the sumptuous syllables of a sanskrit name. Once someone even called me Wise-like! Imagine that! I've decided enough is enough and this morning I went to the local newspaper and inserted a small personal advertisment announcing my new name. It's shorter and it's already an English word that most people are familiar with. I know there will be a lot of jokes about how people will need me to go to another country. But it's better than having to constantly spell my name out and people still getting it wrong.
Appa, I hope you are not angry with me. It's only my name that has changed. I'll always be your daughter.
Love,
Visa
MumbaiGirl said…
Enjoying reading all these!
Saumya said…
Visalakshi's culiniary skills were well-known. It broke her heart that the mysore-pak she made these days could only be distributed. Neither Pattabhi anna (as she lovingly referred to her husband) nor herself could even sniff at the wafting ghee smells while making this delicacy, thanks to their blood sugar levels. Her grandchildren were visiting the next day, and Visalakshi got busy preparing the tins and tins of snacks for the family.

This time, even she was amazed at the Mysore-pak. It looked and smelled heavenly. She glanced furtively at the door, and knew he would not approve. But what the heck?! She took a large piece in her hand, and bit into it, relishing it slowly....
RARA AVIS said…
She had never tried to step on his toes; he was the “man of the house”. But now the life of someone who is basking in the comfort of this innocent village girl’s womb was at stake. She had done a sonogram to determine the sex of the child knowing fully well that it was illegal in India. Who cares as long as you pay a little extra something to the doc! It was going to be her 2nd daughter. No one in her family wanted yet another female child- “they are a burden” her mother-in-law grimaced. “They are of no use, they are born to suck out the parents soul”- her husband declared one day! Thrown off guard by his reaction, she decided to seek help. She was naïve in thinking so. That night she went to the temple and begged for the Lord’s forgiveness. She was an immensely brave woman and had made up her mind- she was going to go, after all her child should not be punished for other peoples’ disgusting ignorance or probably wanton vileness.
Mahadevan said…
He had been brought up by an orthodox Mylapore Mami. In 'Margazhi', morning bath for his wife is a must before before she enters the kitchen. She knew that her husband had been continuously groaning since the previou night - a bad hang over of the excess "Milagu Rasam" he had with plenty of pappadams. A cup of hot coffee would provide him some relief, village bred Visalakshi remembered her grandma's homely remedies. She decided to defy the fatwa, rearranged priorities, and go ahead and prepare the Coffee, before bath.
Annon said…
Last year, Rangarajan was obsessed at shooing away kids who climbed the Mamaram for Mavadu and Mangai and would constantly try and drive them away. How would we be poorer, if the kids take a little? Visalakshi had thought. But what Ranga did surprised her. He had taken a few metres of the barbed wire left over from the gate and tied it around the tree, so it would prevent the kids from climbing up.

She had been silent for almost a year. But the tree was growing, and she could see that the wire was cutting into the tree. She felt that the tree was being suffocated.

She knew he would disapprove, but when he was away on tour, Visalakshi removed the barbed wire, even cutting her hands as she did so.
Caffeinism said…
Mylapore Mami, madisaru and all always went to Kapalishwar every Saturday evening. Or so everyone thought. She would wrap up the dinner preparations, leave the kids at the neighbor’s house and quickly rush in an auto…towards the light house near Marina. There she would meet him; A jolly old man, a good grandfather, a father to his son, a friend to many others …but just plain old Subu to her. It was like revisiting her past. A time before his death, grandchildren, children and marriage. It was like becoming twelve again.

They would let the waves play with their feet, as they shared a quite smoke in the evening breeze.

So maybe her son would not approve of these clandestine meetings and her daughter-in-law would pull a long face, but she did it anyway week after week.
She had to get rid of the 10,000 nickels she had in some way. What better place but a USC UCLA game for 100$. She presented the cupboard full of nickels to the ticket office. Created a big fuss. And got her Bruins vs Trojans tickets.

He did not approve at first. But he had comply. Such is the Trojan Spirit. Fight On!
ranganathan said…
அன்று........

விசாலாக்ஷ¢ 'குளிப்பது' எனத் தீர்மானித்து விட்டாள். விச்வநாதனுக்குப் பிடிக்கவே பிடிக்காது எனத் தெரிந்தும்.

திருவல்லிக்கேணி ஒண்டுக்குடித்தனத்தில் 150 ரூபாய்க்கு மேற்கே பார்த்த வீடு. 12 மணிக்கு மேல் சுள்ளென்று வீட்டுக்குள் வெயில் வந்துவிடும். அதுவும் கோடை என்றால் சன்னல்களோடு, கதவையும் திறந்து வைத்து, உஷா ·பேன் லொடலொடத்தாலும் வியர்த்துக் கொண்டேயிருக்கும். அதுவும் 'மூன்று' நாட்கள் வந்துவிட்டால் கேட்கவே வேண்டாம். நரகம்!

படுக்கையறை, சமையலறை, சாமியறை எல்லாம் ஒன்றுதான்! அதையே தடுப்பாக்கி சிறிய அறை ஒன்று விசாலாக்ஷ¢க்கு ஒதுக்கப்படும்; குளிக்கக் கூடாது. ஆடை மாற்றக்கூடாது. ஸைடோஜி தெருவில் இருக்கும் நாத்தனார் பெண்களில் ஒன்று சமையலுக்கு வரும் (விச்வநாதனுக்கு சமையல் வராது!). எல்லோரும் சாப்பிட்ட பின், பசியில் உயிர் போனபின், ஒரே தட்டில் வெவ்வேறு கிண்ணங்களுடன் மிச்சம் மீதி வரும். ஏதேனும் வேண்டுமென்றால் தடுப்புக்குப் பின்னால் குரல் கொடுத்தால் விச்வநாதன் 'என்ன?' என்று சிடுசிடுப்பான். என்ன செய்வது?

இருந்தாலும் தைரியத்தை வரவழைத்துக் கொண்டு மாலை 4 மணிக்கு கார்பொரேஷன் பம்ப்-ல் பக்கத்து குடித்தனக்காரியை (தொடக்கூடாது!) தண்ணீர் அடிக்க வைத்து, பொது(?! பின்னே? 6 குடித்தனக்காரர்களுக்கு 2 குளியலறைகளை எப்படிச் சொல்வதாம்?) குளியலறைக்குள் கொண்டு செல்ல வைத்து, 5.30க்கு வரும் விச்வநாதனுக்குத் தெரியாதுதான் என்ற தெகிரியத்தில் குளித்து விட்டு வந்தால்...

விச்வநாதன் அன்று பார்த்து பர்மிஷன் போட்டுவிட்டு 4.30க்கே வந்திருந்தான்!

ஒரே முறைப்பில் விசாலாக்ஷ¢க்குச் சப்தநாடியும் ஒடுங்கிப்போய், கால்கள் துவளத் தொடங்கின. ஒரு வாரம் வரையில் பேசாமல் மௌனம் காத்த விச்வநாதனுக்கு முன் விசாலாக்ஷ¢ எடுத்த முயற்சிகள் எல்லாம் தோற்றுப் போயின. அப்பா வந்து அவளைத் திட்டிவிட்டு, சமாதானம் செய்துவைத்த போது விசாலாக்ஷ¢க்கு ஒன்றுமே சொல்லத் தோன்றவில்லை.

கதை இங்கு முடியவில்லை...


இன்று........

காலையில் அரை மணி குளித்து, அம்மா செய்து வைத்த இட்லிகளை சமையலறைக்குள் சென்று வயிறு நெறய சாப்பிட்டு, சுத்தமான உயர் ரக சுரிதார் அணிந்து, போகும் முன் "ஸ்மார்ட்டா இருக்க பாட்டி' என்று முத்தம் கொடுத்த பேத்தி ஜலஜாஸ்ரீயைப் பார்த்து 'ஏண்டி டயர்டா இருக்கே?' என விசாலாக்ஷ¢ கேட்ட போது 'பீரியட்ஸ் பாட்டி' என்று படு கேஷ¤வலாகச் சொன்னாள்!
Divine Ravana said…
For once, she decided to break the rules for her.

Repeat -"Rules for HER".
Pri said…
He hated surprises. Entering the room that evening he almost jumped out of his skin when he heard "SURPRISE!!!"

Oh great! All these happy people. What are they so happy about anyway....the fact that 27 years ago i was born? He smiled at everyone.... pretending to be delighted......glaring at Visalakshi who grinned back "Sorry anna but this isn't your last surprise for tonight."

"uh huh? i can't wait!"

more glaring.....

"Anna look over there" sis points to random girl in denim jacket.

Oh wait but that isn't some random girl.....that's her. This isn't possible.....when did she get back to India? He had tried to forget about her for the last ten years......and there she was standing in the corner with a (what she drinks now?????) in her hand... smiling nervously....he could tell she was as uncomfortable as he was......but he knew that smile and those twinkling eyes....he walked towards her.....
Visalakshi Annamlai said…
ada da da enna pathi soopera story eluthi irukeenga
Sachin R K said…
Visalakshi was a confirmed TV serial addict. She needed her daily dose of "Kyunki Saas bhi Bahu Thi", "Kusum" etc etc.Her husband Suresh had warned her repeatedly not to watch the serials when ICC Champions Trophy cricket was being telecast. Today was the big day. India's do or die match against Australia. Unfortunately, this was also the day , Kusum's brother was being operated for appendictis. Biting her nails in suspense, Vishalakshi was watching the cricket match with unseeing eyes. She poured Suresh 2 beers. Success !!! Suresh has to go to the bathroom. In a flash , the TV remote is in her hands and she switches to Sony. She knew Suresh wouldnt approve but hermind tells her "Go for it".

Conclusion:
The mournful music tells her all she needs to know. Kusum's brother is dead. With a scream, she throws the empty beer bottle at Suresh and jumps out from the sixth floor window.
Usha said…
She knew he wouldn't approve. So why did Visalakshi go ahead and do it anyway?

Visalakshi was her father’s darling. He brought her up as he would a boy,
independent and sporty. The lone father and daughter couple would often be seen playing soccer in the dimming light at the muddy playing ground near the quarters. He cooked and looked after the house, and they watched TV in the night. He wanted one thing and that was to make her a sports-woman, rare to come by in his community. She on the other hand yearned to make him proud.
At 17, Visa had yet to notice the boys around her, and she concentrated on learning basketball most of the time. But things changed when Vijay moved next door. He was a humble young fellow, but the most well-read person she had known in all her life.
She listened in rapt attention as he spoke endlessly about Shakespearean sonnets, Soyinka’s plays and Rushdie’s arcane language. He read fiction like a book worm, she almost always found him seated at the balcony deep in thought or sunk in a book. He read aloud to her, and she borrowed the books and read them secretly in the night when she lay in bed after putting her father to sleep.
After her training that noon, Visa found her dad waiting at the security gate at the end of the quarters. She smiled broadly and tossed the ball to him. They walked towards their house, and she knew he had something important to tell her.
“I spoke to an old friend who knows someone on the National Basketball Committee.”
He paused for effect her eyes had grown wide in anticipation.
“He can slip a word and who knows you might even get a scholarship to play basketball and study at the sports Academy!”
She was stunned speechless. Little did he know that she had slipped in an application to study literature at St.Xavier’s. She knew he wouldn’t approve but she did it anyway.
For the first time in her life she had a dream for herself. Her very own dream. To become a professor, to teach literature.

You Might Also Like

Voicing Silence 1

There is no nice way of saying this so I will say it as brutally and as unvarnished as it needs to be said. I was sexually assaulted when I was ten and a half years old. While I recall the precise details of what happened that night, much of what happened in the immediate aftermath, I have little memory of. In the days and months that followed, I became increasingly angry. I would smash things, kick people, yell, scream and throw a tantrum at the drop of a hat. I was labelled difficult and called names. Rakshasi was a regular epithet and it clung to me like an dirty scent.

There were so many incidents of rage from those years and most involved destruction of some sort. I once lost a card game and went about meticulously ripping up an entire pack of cards much to the amusement of the gathered extended family. There was some other minor provocation which ended in a lovely red dress which was a gift from abroad being shredded to pieces, again to a mute audience

Word got around that I wa…

Voicing Silence 7

(To get a background on this series, I suggest you start with the first post here and then scroll up)

Headphones recommended




(Click on image for link or click here)
Written and narrated by  Abhi Arumbakkam
Animation and edit  Lucy Lee
Sound Louise Brown
Music Nefeli Stammatogianopoulu & Stelios Koupetoris



Sivaji, Jayalaitha And Us

I first noticed it when Sivaji Ganesan passed away. As someone born in the 70s, much of my growing years was marked by the rituals of Sunday evening Tamizh cinema and Friday night Oliyum Oliyum. And Sivaji Ganesan was a permanent fixture in them. Anyone who was melodramatic was a 'Sivaji' and rhymes like 'Sivaji vayile jilebi' were very much part of our book of nonsense rhymes.

So much so, I remember being fourteen and being part of the school drama team enacting a popular scene from Sivaji's Thiruvilayadal. It was a plum role that we all vied to play. Sivaji played Lord Shiva in the movie and in our minds, he might as well have been immortal. So years later, when news broke that he had died, I was in utter shock. Heck, I was not even a fan. Apart from Motor Sundaram Pillai and more recently, Thevar Magan, in every one of his movies, I felt Sivaji had outacted the entire cast. As if to tell the producers, you've paid me a lot, so let me give you your money'…

Tide - 17

Part - 17 “Are you waiting for me, Kamakshi?”, asked Padmaja a little breathless from climbing the stair case. She had never been particularly slim. But lately, she had noticed a tightening of her blouses, particularly around her upper arm that she taken to using the stairs over the lift.
“Hmm? Everything okay? Why do you want me to keep quiet? What is the matter, Kamakshi?”, Padmaja reeled off questions with mounting alarm.
“It's nothing”, hissed Kamakshi between gritted teeth guiding her neighbour by the arm away from her own door. “Come in to my house. I need to tell you something, Padmaja”.
And once inside, Kamakshi's behaviour was even more erratic. She said something about a letter and answering and now meeting someone and the man waiting for her at home.
“Where?”, demanded Padmaja.
Kamakshi silently pointed her finger at her neighhour.
“Where? In my house?”
Kamakshi nodded.
“Have you gone mad, Kamakshi? I gave you the keys in case you don't see me for days a…

What Would You Do?

This afternoon, I went to our local leisure centre to use their steam room and sauna. I had an hour to kill before it was time to collect my son and the leisure centre is across the road and I couldn't think of a better way to spend a tenner and so I went. No sooner had I settled into a corner of the steam room than I heard a voice ask me, 'are you from India?'. Yes, I nodded before it struck me that if I couldn't see the person clearly neither could he. Yes, I said. To this he (by now I could make out a dim outline of a man) volunteered in a very heavy accent 'My country Bangladesh' and then went on to ask me if I lived locally and if I was living with my family (yes and yes, I answered) and told me that he worked in a local Indian restaurant as a chef and that I should visit them if I hadn't already.

Having exhausted his arsenal of polite questions to ask a rank stranger, he fell silent. Shortly, I left the steam room to take a shower before dipping into…

Tide - 7

Part 7

Dear Mrs,
With regards to your advertisement in last Sunday's Hindu. My name is Mr.S.G.Santhanam. I am 65 years old. I retired in 2007 after 40 years of service in the Indian Railways. My daughter and my son are both married and settled abroad. I am in good health except for slightly high blood pressure. Last year I have undergone an operation for a growth in my retina and now my eyesight is better than it has ever been. I follow a strict vegetarian diet (no oinions no garlic) and I have managed to bring down my cholestrol levels also. Recently I have suffered from pain in my hips and my doctor has adviced me to go for a hip replacement operation which I am due to have some time in the next month. So if you reply to my letter, I can arrange to meet you before I check in to the hospital as I will have to be in bed rest for 6 weeks after my operation. I have also attached a photo of myself with this letter. This was taken before I had my new set of teeth.
Your's sincere…

Voicing Silence 4

(To get a background to this series of posts, I suggest you read the first one here, the second one here and the third one here)

Some years ago, my mother mentioned to me that she had attended my sexual assaulter's Sashtiabdapoorthy and I was appalled. This filthy beast was a pillar of the society and had had the temerity to invite my parents to its (no human pronoun for it) birthday celebration. Suffice to say I was apoplectic.

It was also around this time that the whole sordid episode of Jimmy Savile came to light and I had a thought. I began to wonder if I could take my abuser to court on historic sex abuse charges.

For days I fantasised about dragging the filthy piece of shit to court and have it look me in the eye as I would recall in graphic detail what it had done to me. Then, I would watch with glee as it lost its house, its job, its status in the society and delight in the gradual unravelling of its life.

I would have my perfect revenge. I would be able to show it that i…

Voicing Silence 3

(To get a background to this series of posts, I suggest you read the first one here and the second one here.)

In the intervening years since my assault, the whispers grew ubiquitous. Hushed conversations from scarred friends who all talked in coded language about what had happened to them. I should have stopped becoming angry but I just couldn't. Instead I channeled all my rage into the blows I rained on the random stranger who once groped me as I was walking past him one evening when I was in my early twenties. The nonchalance with which another pervert thought he could get away with pinching my breasts made me chase after him faster. But I could rarely sustain the rage which would blaze fiercely and frequently but never long enough for anything positive to emerge. There were no planned course of action to follow through, it was largely fire fighting on a daily basis.

And then something happened a decade ago which reminded me of what triggered my anger all those years ago. I won…

Voicing Silence 2

(To get a background to this series of posts, I suggest you read the first one here)

I realised, almost instinctively that what had happened to me was not a one-off. A casual conversation with a cousin revealed that she too had been touched by the same person. She didn't give me details but all she said was, "that one, him, you know...he's a devil" and gave me an almost imperceptible nod. A secret code that meant that she knew about what had happened to me too. It was our shared language of shame, wrapped in silence and consigned to the deep recess of our minds.

Every now and then the incident would get an airing but I would almost dismiss it by making light of it. During joint studies with classmates from the 11th and 12th standard, two of them talked about the improper touching that had happened to them as children with an almost casual aloofness that I added my incident (for it was now entombed and labelled as Exhibit A in my mind) to the mix. Being abused was so…

Voicing Silence 5

(To get a background to this series of posts, I suggest you read the first one here, the second one here, the third one here and the fourth here)

For years I had been wondering how to articulate my trauma. And then, a little while after I'd moved to the UK, I'd done courses in documentary film-making and had started telling factual stories. Could there be a possibility there? What purpose would retelling a personal story in all its gory detail serve? And is this what I wanted?

In 2013 I watched Yael Farber's Nirbhaya in Edinburgh to an auditorium full of sobbing men and women. I found its portrayal in all its attendant specifics and bit too real. Even the actors playing it had each suffered horrific abuse and it was their own story that was being told. It was discomfiting and I knew I didn't want to go down that route.

A year or so later, I met with Leslie Udwin, director of the documentary India's Daughter, the day
after it had been banned in India. Leslie was de…