Book Title: Unbroken: The Untold Story
Author: Indrani Mukerjea
When the sensational Sheena Bora murder case made national headlines in 2015, perhaps we all stood guilty of vicarious thrill. Soaking in salacious details, many of us even passed judgment on the accused; society’s moral indictment of prime suspect Indrani Mukerjea was especially unambiguous. Years later, Indrani has spoken in a memoir, which, one could argue, is a 378-page defence, perhaps a click-bait to prove her innocence.
As we dig into her story, we are as glued as we were when sordid details of the alleged crime turned into prime time obsession. Undeniably, the book reads well, almost like a screenplay. Indrani recalls the fateful day she was arrested on charges of murdering her daughter. As her writing moves back and forth, she takes us to her traumatic childhood and many skeletons tumble. Her rape by her father when she was all of 14 and then at 16, chills you to the bone. Her life — she was a mother of two by 18 — can’t just be viewed through the lens of the crime she is accused of. Certainly, Indrani, who condemns the media for peddling her life’s story as ‘sensational and juicier’, too, stands guilty of the same. Could she have avoided the reference to her father’s heinous act which led to her first pregnancy and the birth of Sheena? But, in a society that has for far too long kept sexual crimes hidden within the four walls of the house, somebody did need to speak up.
Indrani not only calls out her father, but society at large. She even picks holes in the conduct of her now divorced husband Peter Mukerjea with whom she set up INX media. She makes a pertinent point when she draws attention to the different set of rules that society follows when judging women as opposed to men. How can a woman be faulted for being ambitious? Incidentally, the word, seen as a virtue among men and vice when it concerns women, also made it to her charge-sheet. Out on bail today, she might be breathing free, but a woman who spent 2,460 days at Byculla jail can’t possibly be the same who dined and wined with the crème de la crème of society. Of course, the answer to the daunting question, ‘did she kill her firstborn or not’, can’t be found in the book. Is she telling the truth when she says she had no motive or when she writes that Sheena Bora was seen at Guwahati airport and is alive? Only time and courts can tell.
While the jury on her involvement is still out, Indrani, who turned heads in her heydays, successfully manages to spin a page-turner with a candour that is mostly disarming. From start to finish, it’s very much a personal story, indeed a tragic one. It also says a lot about who and what we are as a society.
Amidst the matrix of broken relationships, love and loss, can one remain unbroken? Indrani claims so. And one can’t help but grant that it takes a whole lot of gumption to turn the glare on oneself once again after the media has already ripped apart your image and put you under relentless scrutiny.