23 September, 2020

Difficulties With Girls

The ‘new’ woman inspires both primeval aggression, preening love

Illustration by Ashish Bagchi
Difficulties With Girls

‘Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere’. Were the tragic pawns of dangerous liaisons—Madhumita Shukla, Bhanwari Devi, Geetika Sharma, Kavita Rani—‘Cosmo Girls’? Who knows, but it’s as if Helen Gurley Brown, Cosmopolitan’s zesty editor and author of the ’60s DIY book, Sex and the Single Girl, whose quote this was and who died this week, could have been their idol. Brown may have taught a generation of women feminine guile, but that is not the point—she also inspired generations to throw all caution to the wind and have it all.

Perhaps it was this spirit of spontaneity that empowered the fiery young balladeer of Lakhimpur Kheri, in the badlands of Uttar Pradesh, who became a star in the local kavi sammelans (poetry sessions), to have a torrid and ill-fated affair with notorious politician Amarmani Tripathi? Madhumita was 21, Tripathi was 45, married, a father, and had 30 criminal cases pending against him. But she was independent, unrestrained—a child prodigy who was invited all...



To read this piece, and more such stories in India's most exciting and exacting magazine, plus get access to our 25-year archives goldmine, please subscribe.

More from Vrinda Gopinath

Latest Magazine

September 28, 2020

other articles from the issue

articles from the previous issue

Other magazine section