My newest book has seen at least 4 cover designs. It reflected more than anything, the mood I was writing about, just as much as the story. There was a melancholic one, and another that reflected the child-like innocence of one character.
But as I reach the end of the writing, the narratives emerge loud and clear. They sing in a thunderous chorus, voices that are too bold to ignore.
The women and men of this narrative have guided this book, so I changed the cover one final time.
About the cover:
Red: Kumkum, vermillion, life, strength, blood, sacred, awakening, the color of ‘Devi’ or ‘Shakti’.
Yellow: Turmeric, holy, healing, sanctification, purification, centering, calming.
White: Sandalwood, peace, the color of ‘Vishnu’, the creator.
These colors paint many aspects of Hindu life, marking life events by their presence or absence, signifying movement from one phase of life to another, from innocence to worldliness to spiritual fulfillment and transcendence.
And of the three, Kumkum and Turmeric are most prevalent in a Hindu life.
When Kumkum and Turmeric come together, they represent the balance between and the merging of the everyday, the mundane and the ordinary, with the divine, the holy and the omnipresent energy. For some, these two together represent the essence of Life.
During religious ceremonies, these powders are applied most often just below the hairline, just above the bridge of the eyebrows, in the 'center', the spiritual 'power-switch' of a human being, to spark enlightenment.
One often sees Banyan trees in India smeared with these three powders - Kumkum, turmeric, and sandalwood, to symbolize 'sanctification' or even as a representation or 'embodiment' of the sacred spirit. (see adjoining image, c. 2013, Tamil Nadu, India)
In an uncanny coincidence, two important pieces of an Indian kitchen are cayenne pepper and turmeric, one red as the color of kumkum, the other – turmeric itself.
For a Hindu woman, these two, kumkum and turmeric represent coveted marks of identity, status, and of belonging to a sisterhood of married women. But these colors also tether her to social norms, domestic responsibilities, most often to the kitchen.
While she dances between these two worlds: one communal, one personal - she creates a third space – a home, a place of comfort.
While these two colors unite all life in the Indian subcontinent, they also represent unchallenged frontiers that influence identity of a woman.
Does the definition of womanhood change over time?
Not For You shadows the lives of six different women, from different time frames, in India who become connected by fate: Johari-ba, Shanta, Pearl, Mani, Shaku & Ana.
How do their lives influence the others? Is there a sisterhood of women that helps them? How does society treat them? How does their faith & spirituality help them?
How does the identity of an Indian woman change over the course of 150 years, & what aspects of it remain the same?
Is an Indian woman ever her own person?
Read Not For You (Book One & Two) to find out.
NFY: Book One (ebook) - available on ebook reader formats
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