Bandilanka, a fictional village in Southern India, represents many such ones across the Indian subcontinent, still caught up in the age-old customs, and superstitions that are destructive at times. The characters in this collection have each faced some form of injustice or loss.
‘A cleaning woman’s tale’ and ‘Vegetable vendor Sundari’ exemplify sex-discrimination in the village. ‘Widowhood across generations’ describes the fate of widows from all castes, classes, and age groups. ‘The matter of trans lives’ and ‘Tradition’s stranglehold’ show how despite a 2014 law formally recognizing the existence of a third gender, Hijras continue to face hate and persecution, as does the entire LGBTQ+ community.
Bigotry raises its ugly head in ‘Night soil removers Kaavanna and Kondamma,’ but is condemned in an interesting reversal of fate. ‘A washerman’s dream’ is the poignant story of a washerman who with his dying breath thanks a loving family for giving him the strength to stand up to a lifetime of rejection because of his perceived low caste.
The stories highlight the inherent worth and dignity of the lives of these disenfranchised groups thus challenging socially constructed divides and inequalities of caste, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and age.