Rukmini's takes over the reins of
a flagging business after the death of her husband in a
conscious effort to prove her mettle and unshackle herself from
the presumption that a woman is incapable of having an identity
outside her home and hearth, the only place for her to be.
Even as a child
Rukmini exhibits independent thinking and a curious mind. Her
"exuberance and fearlessness" are thought of as sin.
She, on her part, is unrelenting. Rukmini's faith in her
potential pays off when she is felicitated by the same society
which had at the outset scorned her, seeking to crush her
Krishna, on the
other hand, is the cynosure of all eyes. Her unquestioning
disposition makes her an ideal daughter and a virtuous bahu
at only 14. She tries to look as inconspicuous as possible and
hunches to look smaller for her mother's sake who fears she is
growing up too fast!
Radha's dilemma is
the worst. "Demonstration of anger, hate and love was not
the right behaviour. It was instilled in her so deeply that it
was difficult to disregard it now. She would be called shameless
so she crushed her desire to share any physical bond with her
own children." Ironically, she forges a bond with her
daughter only after her marriage because she is no longer seen
as a responsibility.
At one level, Stolen
Sunshine is a plea for the uplift of women and reinforces
the fact that the multi-faceted development of women is
essential for the existence of a healthy, dynamic society.
Marwari men, with
their unsurpassed business acumen, come across as open-minded
and hardworking, insusceptible to pressure and far more
sensitive to women than perhaps even the women themselves.
Some parts of the
book that talk of the freedom struggle are evocative but not
integral to the storyline. Even without these the plot would not
have been affected.