Imagine the literary world without women characters! It would be so dull and boring, right? Literary geniuses might have woven magic with male characters as their protagonists, but without the support of female characters they would fade away.
Long before the world wars, when Valmiki wrote the Ramayana, he created, Sita. Ever since, Sita has been an epitome of courage and strength. Lord Ram is the protagonist, but imagine Ramayana without Sita?
The world changes every time a strong woman character is brought to life in the books, and unfortunately only a handful of such characters have been created.
Some of the best Indian writers have brought to life female characters that we wish we were like. These characters have inspired women all along to become bolder, stronger and to a great extent more open-minded.
Charulata in Nastanirhby Rabindranath Tagore.
Charulata is an intruging character. She has everything: Money, good looks, a home to call her own, and passion for art. Her dilemma begins when she begins to feel lonely though she is married. Her loneliness and common passion for writing brings her closer to her husband’s cousin brother. In the pursuit for love and companionship she falls for this man.
It’s the end of the story that brings out how strong a woman can really be. The essence of Charulata’s character that was crafted in a different era still holds true. A lonely woman has the right to find companionship, irrespective of the narrow outlook of the society.
Panchali in Palace of Illusions by ChitraBanarjee.
This character instantly takes you back in time. Panchali’s journey from her father’s house to being a married princess to losing her son in the epic battle; is a tale in itself. She is a master at masking what is really going on within her mind and heart. Her encounters with Karna and witty chitchats with Krishna, sets an example of a true queen.
Though she is a princess, she does all that a common woman is believed to do. When she marries the Pandavas they are in disguise. She performs all her duties as a wife and daughter-in-law is expected to do. She cooks, cleans and takes care of her husbands and mother-in-law. Draupadi aka Panchali’s character is deeply intriguing.
Gayatri Devi from her memoirs in A Princess Remembers by Gayatri Devi and co-authored by Santha Rama Rau.
Though she is not a fictional character, Gayatri Devi, the Maharani of Jaipur, was a real life fashion icon. Her journey from being the pampered princess of Cooch Behar, West Bengal, to being the Rajmata of Jaipur is exhilarating. She had maintained her poise and dignity all through the ups and downs of her life.
She mentions about her first panther hunt, her driving skills, her love for cars and her relationships with her family members, in her book.
Her autobiography takes one back to good old Royal days. Here’s the one-million dollar question: Who wouldn’t want to be a Maharani of Jaipur?
Paro from Devdas by SharathChandanChattopadhyay
From a restless lover girl to being a sensible Thakurain, Paro has an everlasting impression on our minds. Though not educated she has a lot of self-respect. She lets her heart rule over her mind, which is how she celebrates her being.
She changed the way women saw romance by choosing an arranged marriage (with a much older man than her) over her love, for the sake of her dignity and self-respect.
Indian Female characters have a charm that is unspoken. They can twist and turn lives around them. Bonding with these classical ladies isn’t difficult. As certain ways of society and life shall always remain the same. Neither time nor education can change the purpose of a woman’s existence.
A literary tour lets you soak in these characters for a while and perhaps you can get the feel of their world!