Book Review: When I Hit You Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife by Meena Kandasamy



Genre: Fiction / Contemporary

Publishers: Juggernaut

Price: Rs. 299/- (I got the book for review from the publisher)

Behind the Book

Seduced by politics and poetry, the unnamed narrator falls in love with a university professor and agrees to be his wife, but what for her is a contract of love is for him a contract of ownership. As he sets about reducing her to his idealised version of a kept woman, bullying her out of her life as an academic and writer in the process, she attempts to push back - a resistance he resolves to break with violence and rape.

Smart, fierce and courageous When I Hit You is a dissection of what love meant, means and will come to mean when trust is undermined by violence; a brilliant, throat-tightening feminist discourse on battered faces and bruised male egos; and a scathing portrait of traditional wedlock in modern India.

A finalist for the Woman’s Prize for Fiction and critically acclaimed in the UK, When I Hit You is a powerful and intimate chronical of an abusive marriage.

Guardian's Best Books of 2017
Daily Telegraph's Best Books of 2017
Observer Best Books of 2017
Financial Times Best Books of 2017

About the Author
Meena Kandasamy is a poet, fiction writer, translator and activist. She has published two collections of poetry, Touch and Ms Militancy, and the critically acclaimed novel the Gypsy Goddess.

Raw, intense, poignant, powerful and heart-breaking are the few words that come to mind when everything else fails in describing this book.

After Deepa Narayan's Chup, if there was one book that could shake me to the core then it had to be this one. I have been in an abusive relationship for close to 3 years and like every one else have also been asked "How could you?". Well, unfortunately we don't know the answer ourselves and it is not like we enjoy it so much that we do it to ourselves. It just happens.

Reading this book was like opening a can of worms. I knew it had all the possibility of triggering my panic attacks or worse give me another bout of those depressing spells where I want to do nothing except cry.Fortunately, whatever happened was way lesser than what I had expected. Maybe I had healed or maybe it felt comforting to know there is someone else out there who knows exactly what I was feeling during those 3 years. Maybe...

This book is full of such maybes and it is not easy to read each one of them. The book is unflinching in its depiction of reality and the extent till which a fellow human can damage another. We always like to believe that as humans we are limited in everything we do. But somehow every time I read such violent stories it always reassures me that at least in causing hurt and pain we are limitless. The human mind has the capacity to break someone so badly that even God would be shocked to see His creation behave like this.

The writing is immensely captivating, it grows onto you, leaving you with goosebumps all over. There were a lot of chapters I had to stop reading for it got too real to continue ahead. I had to take some time out and come back to reality, to the present which is devoid of any such trauma. The narrative is gut wrenching, with certain scenes which can make your insides churn because of their description.

Overall, a brave attempt at capturing the other side of marriages and a strongly recommended read for ones who can handle these triggers. For me, it was a sign I have healed. For someone it could be the reason they heal while for other it could signify that healing is possible and that such life is not the end of it all. 

Foodie Verdict

This book is like Khichu - Delectable flavours which are comforting!

Source: MTR Dishcovery