Single by choice

Kalpana book launchNWM Mumbai hosted the launch of Single by Choice: Happily Unmarried Women (published by Women Unlimited) at the Mumbai Press Club on August 24. The book, edited by senior journalist Kalpana Sharma, is a compilation of 13 essays by Indian women, young and older, who have never married and who -- barring one writer -- are happy with their single lives. The one exception is Dalit writer Bama who chose to live as a single woman despite the harassment she suffered from the community. The launch saw Kalpana Sharma and journalist Aheli Moitra, one of the book’s contributors, in conversation with Mumbai-based writer Jerry Pinto.

Jerry began the conversation by detailing stories of women in his extended family who have chosen to stay single and live alone quite contentedly even in their 80s. He asked the two writers if the expectations from a traditional Indian marriage and the nervousness some people feel about it being a contract “forever” made them opt out of the institution. Kalpana said that her singlehood was always a choice she made when she realised her career and social life kept her busy while a liberal family let her live life on her own terms. Aheli, who lives and works in Nagaland, read extracts from her essay about women in the north-eastern state who run single-women-headed households and are supported by a tightly-knit Naga society. “As a single person, you don’t take things for granted. We have learnt not to be so proud. We call and ask friends for help when we need it,” said Kalpana, pointing to members of her extended family of close friends who were present at the meet.

Kalpana book launch audienceThe launch was attended by several single women across different age groups. Many others said that despite being married, they were "single in their minds". A handful of men attended too, single and married, happy and otherwise. 

The video of the meeting can be viewed here on the NWMI Facebook page.

Tanya Thomas, September 2019

Photographs: Top right (from left): Jerry Pinto, Kalpana Sharma and Aheli Moitra. Left: the audience at the meeting.