Every writer is inundated with doubt when they read the first draft of their story. For writers who write about bold topics this doubt manifests earlier and stronger.

As women we are used to being judged and weighed against what is acceptable by society. But when one wants to write and bring topics that are only whispered about and not even that in polite company a writer knows that there will be rough waters ahead.

And so it was with me as I wrote Anatomy of Choice basing the conflict in the book on a threesome.

Sex is a word which most people can say aloud… now. But if we talk of a woman choosing to have sex and that too with more than one partner, it becomes intertwined with shame. Hence while I was writing the book I found myself faltering, doubting the reception of the story.

In a moment of weakness and unwilling to court controversy I gave up on the story and wrote a completely different manuscript. My husband who is also my first, most merciless critic and yet my staunchest supporter read the story and told me to go back to the story that I truly believed in and wanted to write.

Sex is a word which most people can say aloud… now. But if we talk of a woman choosing to have sex and that too with more than one partner, it becomes intertwined with shame.

His words rankled but I saw the truth behind them and that was the reason I sat back on my writing desk to restart the story that was waiting to be written. Thereafter my story flowed freely and surely as if it had only been waiting for me to gather the courage to face the consequences its release would unleash. I went from doubting myself to a firm resolve that an important question that has always haunted me had to be articulated.

Harshali Singh

Are women able and free to make and own their choices in the 21st century or is the patriarchal conditioning too tight to allow us to break the shackles of what is expected of us, as women and even as men?

While my book received good reviews, there were also voices that asked impolite questions. There were friends who took a step back. My parents were proud albeit embarrassed to talk about the premise of the book in their circle of friends. There were others who through small unkind gestures tried to chip at my confidence.

In my first book A Window To Her Dreams the issues I dealt with were domestic violence and marital rape but no one questioned those topics or why I wrote about them. After the second book came out, I realized the reason for this acceptance.

Are women able and free to make and own their choices in the 21st century or is the patriarchal conditioning too tight to allow us to break the shackles of what is expected of us, as women and even as men?

Most women prefer to be seen as victims, frail, meek, and always the damsel. People feel uncomfortable when their reality and conditioning is threatened with a free thinking woman who can choose to be the driving force in her own life, a fictional character at that. These individuals feel compelled to restore the patriarchal balance that is tipped in favour of men and are willing to bend backwards to do so.

To my utmost happiness, there are, on the other hand, a growing number of brave and vocal women and men who endorse women taking their lives in their own hands, making choices they feel are right for them.

And so for now, that is enough.

The lesson that I learnt in this part of my journey is that ‘kuch to log kahenge, logon ka kaam hai kehna.’ Hence, with a smile on my lips and a story in my heart I will continue to write about issues that make me question this unequivocal acceptance, that women have to behave in a certain way to be given the badge of goodness.

Women have and will continue to make difficult choices for themselves, for their happiness and will be unapologetic about them. That there is no one right way to live life nor does it guarantee happiness for everyone. Each of us has to choose a path that makes us happy and content in our own unique way.

And that is the Anatomy of Choice.

This war to break the mould set out for us women, is a long one, I am just glad I won this battle.

On to the next.

Harshali Singh is a New Delhi based author, a poet, an academician, a teacher trainer, an occupational therapist, an avid reader and a passionate painter. Her Novels ‘A Window to her Dreams’, and the recently launched ‘The Anatomy of Choice’ form part of nine books series comprising the ‘Haveli Series’. Her poems are part of a woman centric bilingual anthology of poems called ‘She The Shakti’. The views expressed are author’s own.

Email us at connect@shethepeople.tv