Akhilandeshwari – the all-powerful supreme goddesses, the one who reigns over the world, the one in who instills power and ambition, the driving force behind the universe in motion.
Akhila – The whole encompassing, the complete self. One who is “whole”
I loved the name of the central character in Ladies Coupé written by Anita Nair purely because just as her name Akhila, she transcends with carefully trended steps from a helpless Indian woman to one who is whole and complete on her own. For centuries, one would have heard of how a woman needs a man and how she is incomplete without the presence of a man in her life. The patriarchal mindset is explored truthfully and in all honesty by the author. As I flipped through the pages, I could only appreciate the finer nuances in the writer’s writing style. Writers write because they have the power of words, and in books like these you see the fragment of power come in to play fully and rationally. Each character Akhila meets, pushes her further to the route of exploration – exploring herself, her desires, her sexuality, her dreams, ambitions and goals and her life and as a middle aged woman she finally breaks the barriers – not the one the society has thrust upon her gender but also the one she has unknowingly created in her mind.
The part where the author describes Akhila, an orthodox brahmin eating boiled egg for the first time or the delicious aromatic filter coffee was so splendidly written that I immediately carved for those myself. The book explores stories of other characters Akhila meets and while if you are a reader who enjoys one story at a time, this may not be to your liking; however I believe each story was unique and came with their own element of human nature and understanding.
Ladies Coupé explores the concept of breaking barriers. There is nothing more remarkable than the feeling of pure freedom as one breaks away the chains built in (maybe even unknowingly) that forfeits one’s freedom under the guise of “safety”, “protection” and “expectations”. While the pressure to deal with this is more so for women in a country like India, it isnt very different for the men. And that is exactly what Anita Nair explores. Her writing is subtle yet highly observant. And with each story that unfolds, there is a little voice in my heart that felt for the characters till I almost jubilantly wanted to clap for them.
Societal norms are easier to follow and difficult to break. For every woman (and of course men) who wish to breathe in a fresh air of self- indulgence this book is a must read. It is okay to do what is right for you while it may not be right or expected for anyone else. Your life should comprise of your decisions and that’s a valuable take-away.
Hoping each individual find their ‘akhila’ (whole) self, there is nothing more powerful and encompassing than that. For Akhilandeshwari, you have my deepest salutations. Here’s to womanhood!