Eversince women have entered the sphere of literary writing; they have tried to showcase what women feel in a real sense. They have shown how patriarchy has held them in its grip for generations and continues to do so in some manner or the other. These efforts by women make readers read, and people hear the same story from the other side; instead of his-story, now there is her-story. Indian literary writing has seen a lesser number of women writers in comparison to the male writers. After writers like Sarojini Naidu, Kamala Das, Ismat Chugtai, Mahasweta Devi, Amrita Pritam, and a handful of others, Saroj Sudan would be remembered for her ground-breaking work, “Unlock Shackles: Let Her Fly.” The work in itself is a masterpiece as a debut work and displays the author’s maturity and understanding due to her experience and wisdom.
The author has chosen the title, “Unlock Shackles” wisely and the cover of the book is equally attractive. The readers get the feeling that there is a sense of fighting all odds, never giving up, and breaking free of all that can stop a person from doing what they want. As the blurb reveals, the story revolves around a mother-daughter duo Sarla and Pallavi, who are more symbolic of the womenhood fighting for the wrong that has happened with them. Pallavi’s father is a thorough incarnation of patriarchy and the atrocities and abuses it has inflicted upon women for generations. The fight of these women like heroes is a part of the fragment of the framework that Sudan shares with the readers. They are jolted by the fact that Sarla and Pallavi could be found in any household in not just India, but any part of the world as patriarchy is omnipresent. Sarla and Pallavi could be any mother daughter pair who are suffering the same fate as the characters. This is one of the few facts that makes “Unlock Shackles” a strongly relevant work in the social context. The other additional factors that contribute to its importance as a social novel include the position of women in the society, the patriarchal hold and control of them, the education of women, the support, love, and nurturing any child needs, and the fact that intelligence is not based on gender.
These are just a few themes that the readers can easily find in the book. There would be more when examined closely. In addition to all this, there are the characters of Sarla, Pallavi, he aunt, Sudha, her father, Virendra Singh, and other minor characters who give their share of contributions in the development of Sarla and Pallavi as vital, exuberant and characters who come across not as puppets in the hands of patriarchy but assertive individuals who have their own will, the spirit to fight and the aggressiveness and hunger for equality in every sphere of their lives. Sudan’s characters have the fire to break free of all that would stop them or hinder their path to reach where they have been dreaming to. This is the incarnation of the modern-day women who would not restrain herself from voicing what she thinks and feels. That is what makes the subject of “Unlock Shackles” fit to stand the test of time and also remain universally relevant for this time or the times ahead.
Simultaneously, there is a plot that moves with an adequate speed with the presence of enough action to keep the readers engaged in the book and the content it has. The length of the book is also maintained according to an average reader. It is neither too short and indeed not too long. All these factors combine and make the book worth a reader’s time and hold on to their interest and keep it sustained throughout their reading journey. Even though “Unlock Shackles” is all about women by a woman for women, the character of Deepak stretches the canvas of the novel further and does not let it remain restricted to women and their lives. Therefore, it can be said that the work can be read not just by women but men too. Readers who are grown-ups would find this work catching their interest instantly, while younger readers may try reading a mature work as it portrays reality in the closest manner. This book would do the wonder of opening their eyes to the mostly unseen and unspoken reality in a stark way.
After the onset of the waves of feminism, women have broken all the rules and regulations set by the male folk, which held them back. They have written a lot of flagship killer work, but there is still a long way to go, and this message is given loud and clear by the author Saroj Sudan in “Unlock Shackles: Let Her Fly.”