Author Karan Puri on why he wanted to document real-life inspired stories from the #MeToo movement in his book
A mother who is overprotective of her daughter given her own unhealed scars of sexual abuse as a child, a young woman in a corporate workspace being preyed upon by her boss, an 18-year-old embarking on a legal battle following sexual assault are some of the real-life inspired stories in author Karan Puri’s book #MeToo (Invincible Publishers). With a disclaimer that the names of survivors have been changed to protect identities and some of the events have been altered, the author says he intended to publish partly fictionalised stories to step up awareness towards the need to fight sexual harassment.
Edited excerpts from an interview with the author:
What made you want to document some of the stories from the #MeToo movement?
The movement left a lasting impression on me. It gave so many women an avenue to express their feelings. It was shocking to me that there were so many women who had not disclosed their experience with sexual abuse thinking that it was okay to let the perpetrators go free.
How did you choose the stories for this book?
I wanted to delve deeper into the dark stories of women and men, rural as well as urban, and stories of common people that had not been shared [on social media]. A lot of research went into the book and the narration was well thought out. Writing short stories is not an easy task and I challenged myself. Each of these stories is incredibly different and unique, written from a human perspective, without wearing any glasses that perceive only women as more vulnerable, men as more callous and vice versa.
Did you get in touch with each of the victims/survivors, get their consent to publish the stories? How willing were they to share their ordeals?
I wanted to include women of varying ages from different sections of society — corporates, homemakers, struggling actors. Since I am a writer of fiction, I was clear in my mind that I would use the information creatively to dig into the root cause and that would enable me to create awareness.
The survivors were apprehensive at first but after I met them a few times, they got comfortable in sharing their feelings and trauma. I call them survivors as they dealt with their inner fears and came out and revealed their stories.
Some of the stories describe the assault in a graphic manner. There’s a risk of the narratives becoming voyeuristic or exploitative, isn’t it?
I believe that any art form, be it visual or sensory, helps convey the message to the readers. These images have been set carefully in context of the stories and they aim to deliver the point that I want to address with this book.
There was always a need to document at least some of the #MeToo stories so that they aren’t forgotten. In addition, did you consider writing about the history of the movement, to put things in context?
Society plays a major role in shaping up a person’s mindset and psyche. It is this mindset that I wanted to change with my book. This is a fictionalised version, motivated by the movement, so I preferred to keep it as a collection of short stories. The details of the movement are available in the public domain. The book is primarily to create awareness.
Did you consider including redressal measures such as psychological counselling helplines, for instance, in case anyone reading this book is a survivor of abuse and looking at ways to heal?
I have written these stories to make people who have gone through abuse of any kind, feel alive. To tell them that it’s okay, that it’s not their fault and they deserve to lead a baggage-free life. It is time to transfer the weight of the wrongdoings to the culprit. I would love to get feedback from the readers and I am available for any help or guidance that they may need. It inspires all of us to be more evolved and compassionate. Let’s confront the past and walk into the future.