Two Sisters, Two Lives: An Excerpt from "Walking Towards Ourselves"

30 January 2016

Walking towards Ourselves is a collection of non-fiction narratives by Indian women writing either about themselves, or about a woman they were influenced by. The narratives explore what it means to be a woman in India amid an evolving conversation on gender, feminism, and identity. One narrator speaks of her experience with the casting couch in Bollywood, another of an abusive marriage. One writer examines how the careers of women have evolved over the past few decades, and another recounts her experience of being a misfit as a single woman in her 40s. The book collects 19 such narratives. The title of the book comes from the choreographer Chitralekha, who, when speaking of the connection between art and life, said that it is akin to "walking towards ourselves."

The following excerpt, an essay by the Punjabi writer Nirupama Dutt, titled 'Two Sisters, Two Lives,' is a memoir of her sister, Devi, who is 28 years older than her, and whose life is "tragic and wasted."

Devi and I were sired twenty-eight years apart by a grand, but tragic, patriarch. The decades separating her birth from mine were eventful ones: India was freed from British rule, and the country was partitioned. Devi learned many a bitter lesson of life—lessons that I, so vastly her junior, was spared.

Nirupama Dutt is a poet and editor of the Punjabi edition of The Sunday Indian. She is based in Chandigarh.

Keywords: narratives Nirupama Dutt Sisters Walking Towards Ourselves women