Extracts from Daughter By Court Order

Daughter By Court Order highlights that even the most important decisions are not, in the moment, recognised for what their impact will be:

“His words were a catalyst and Arnie saw that she had to take charge of her life. To decide on the way forward. Any decision she took that afternoon would be difficult. What she didn’t know at that moment was that the decision she would take as the sunset broke the sky into shades of vermilion, lilac and crimson on that momentous summer day, would be the biggest and the most important one that she would take in a long time. As Virginia Woolf said: ‘You cannot find peace by avoiding life.’”

“Arnie remembered peering at the majestic Ambassador car given as dowry to a new bride in the Dhari family, which cemented her superior status in the clan. Today, Arnie’s eleven-year old son would consider it quaint and vintage because he had seen the latest Jaguar cruise past their car in Noida. So much had changed; even India had made a long and stumbling journey from telegrams to Twitter, from Kodak photographs to Instagram and Facebook.”

Aranya reflects on her daughter Sia:

“At thirteen she was still a child, Arnie’s child. Too young to bear the burden of all she had seen. Arnie wondered what she would make of it when she looked back on it several years from now. “My story will not be hers; she will have a different life,” Arnie hoped.”

In the book, Aranya is not allowed to go to the college of her choice:

“However, her happiness was momentary; the fire in her belly extinguished by her parents and extended family. They poured water on Arnie’s dreams and her aspirations. She was reminded of her place in life, reminded that she was a girl and that they had other plans for her. These plans did not include the college of her choice and led to the convent for girls. In her naiveté, little did Arnie realise that she had stirred up their lives by being unpredictable and not staying within their script for her, a script where her life was bound by mediocrity and loud sighs. Life’s excitement and achievements were reserved for Randeep, her brother.”

Aranya believes there is hope in the darkest of situations:

“Even when there was no hope at different points, I just hung on and lived from day to day, hoping, praying for a day when I would be thrown out of the tunnel and into the sunshine. I got sucked into it so I believed that one day, someday, I would get thrown out too.”

The Universe listens and it deals with situations as it deems fit. Kamini’s fate, Aranya believes, is in the hands of the Gods.

“I believe that the Universe keeps an account of good and bad so her payback will be to the Gods.”

Hope and resolve in the book:

“I am back again where I started and yet it is different.” Arnie’s eyes sparkled with hope. She paused, took in the magnificent view and told him quietly but resolutely. “I will not give up the legal battle for my rightful share. This is beyond money. It is for my dignity as a human being and includes a better future for the children and me,” she repeated, her eyes bright and burning with determination. “I fly free; I am not bound by their izzat.