In the autumn of 1992, a 69-yeara-old woman moved from Delhi to Shimla with her youngest daughter. Four months earlier her husband had passed away; she was aching and empty.
Encouraged by her daughter to write, she rummaged through the past, going as far back as 70 years to make peace with the present. The result is Bride at Ten, Mother at Fifteen: Autobiography of an Unknown Indian Woman-a story that spans personal and sub continental history: Kandy and the plight of tea-estate laborers. Trivandrum and her in-laws, New Delhi during World War II, Partition riots, childbirths, marriages, disenchantments, deaths.
Then there are memorable characters-a journalist husband who would throw a fit if his pen was misplaced, a clairvoyant if distressed daughter, Sri Ramana Maharishi, and film distributor Paramount Krishna Iyer. Bride at Ten, Mother at Fifteen chronicles history through the life of a woman blessed with total recall.
It was 1964 and on September 24, I completed 40 years. I got married when I was ten and my schooling ended when I was thirteen. Two things hurt me very much: not being able to learn music and not continuing my studies. But, how could one do anything creative when there was a large family to be looked after and relatives and guests kept coming? On top of all that we kept an open house and food had to be available for the casual visitors and my husband's circle of journalist friends. After a sincere effort, I gave up. This feeling of frustration was ever within me, and I was determine that some day I would make my life meaningful. Perhaps these were thoughts which influenced me when I read Pearl S Buck's Pavilion of Women. The main theme was that the lady, who was the head of the Chinese family, decided on her 40th birthday to be independent of her husband's physical needs and presented him with a young girl for wife. The only idea, which appealed to me from the story, was the becoming independent part. I was not prepared to abdicate either my wifely duties or my usefulness in the family, but the book helped me to make a resolution on my 40th birthday. This was a formal declaration to myself to the effect that henceforth I would do what I liked and would make my own decisions. It took me 40 years to take that decision, whereas today even a child has the courage to make its own choices.