A Scandalous Secret: A truth that tears them apart
In A scandalous Secret the protagonist Neha basks in a bubble of a perfect marriage which is about to burst with its can of worms.
Glamour, money, and a beautiful home – the golden couple of Delhi, Neha and Sharat appear to have it all. But a dark secret from Neha‟s past is about to resurface, a heartbreaking moment in her past that she has tried to block out. Authored by Jaishree Misra, A Scandalous Secret is the third in the series which revolves around a mother who abandoned her new born.
Jaishree Misra grew up in India and moved to the UK in 1990. In 2010, she moved back to New Delhi where, alongside her writing, she is also working with a group of parents who are developing a residential unit for adults with learning disabilities.
She has authored several books like Ancient Promises, Little Book of Romance, Accidents Like Love & Marriage. She also wrote a historical novel titled Rani, which is set in the era of British India. Below are the excerpts from the interview.
How did your tryst with writing begin?
Oh, when I was about twelve I hand-wrote my first book which had a print-run of 1 and a readership of 2 (my long-suffering parents). In long-hand, I wrote a really bleak and cheerless story in one of my school notebook.
I also made a cover for it by pasting innumerable pictures that I had cut from the magazine and I named it And the World Marched On. How grim is that?! So glad it never saw the light of a day.
Tell us something about the book?
It’s the story of a young Indian woman who gets pregnant when she goes abroad as a student. She is cajoled to give up the child and returns to India, imagining she can keep her secret forever. But, eighteen years later, the child comes to India in search of her mother and the hidden truth is out in the open. The novel explores the trivial emotions of rejection that the mother and daughter go through.
What inspired you to write this book?
A few years ago I had read a similar story about a British couple in the 1950’s. And at that point of time, I am sure Britain was as unforgiving as India would be in that context. That thought struck my mind and I wondered how things would unfold if something similar would happen in our contemporary India.
Can an incident change the very course of one’s life? Tell us one of your scandalous secret?
Perhaps it’s a novelistic delusion that lives can turn around a single incident but it does make for an interesting idea, doesn’t it? As one of the characters in the book says, ‘Everyone makes mistakes but what sets one mistake apart from the next are its consequences.’ There are probably, sadly, far too many 18-year-olds who make the mistake of having unprotected sex, but for the purpose of the book, I had to land my protagonist with the consequence of an unwanted pregnancy straightaway. That’s not the actual story, though, as the main narrative kicks off when the daughter plans to come to India in search of her mother.
Me? I don’t have a scandalous secret to offer as they all emerge in my books in some way, shape or form.
The protagonist abandons her new born...and moves on in life...but is there any trace of the child in her everyday life?
Neha is a highly controlled sort of personality and thinks she has successfully put away all memory of the child she gave away. But you soon see that the pain is lurking deep beneath the surface. Her subsequent childlessness makes her anguish much worse and of course her guilt is worsened by the fact that she’s married to the nicest man from whom she’s keeping the secret.
Is it so easy to give up on a new born?
Giving up a child must be one of the hardest things a woman has to do but it’s a far more common occurrence here in India than most of us would like to admit. Our census figures rather shockingly show a rapidly shrinking female population (astonishingly, worse in relatively well-off communities) and that’s proof enough that we have girl children ‘disappearing’ in different ways all the time.
What kind of research went in writing this fictional tale?
Because of the time constraints, sadly, I did not have enough time to talk to people who’ve actually shared Neha’s (or even Sonya’s) experiences. So most of my research had to be done on the internet where – luckily – there are all sorts of sites dedicated to help adopted people search for their biological parents. The reverse is less common as, in Britain; its adopters have more right to information than parents.
Book: A Scandalous Secret
Publisher: Harper Collins Publisher’s India