On Saturday I was rendered almost speechless - and that is a rarity of epic proportions!
I received a call from an Independent bookshop - this is exciting, but possibly not stop you in your tracks exciting . . . . however this bookshop is in India!
The lady i spoke to, Hema, was enquiring after my new book, 'Erin and Roderick Discover Families,' after hearing it was due for publication in January. She was interested in it for a variety of reasons. Firstly she said she adored the illustrations and was drawn to the fact that one of the featured families has an Indian mother and son. Moreover she was thrilled that this representation of an Indian mother and son was non-traditional in that the second parent was also female. The normalising of diversity, she told me, is what is needed now more than ever. MIC DROP!
This is exactly my message. This is why I write. This is what I want people to grab hold of and squeeze the life into.. . . . and this was coming from India! As a country India has had it's struggles with inter-racial marriage and homosexuality. So I decided to dig a little deeper.
As ever there is a tangled historical web which has woven itself tightly around people's perception of how society should be. Pre-Colonial India was a lot more diverse and accepting of non conventional marital set-ups. However in the 1800's Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code was introduced into law and in effect made homosexuality illegal. Those from the same sex who professed to love one another were criminalised and punished in accordance.
This went on for 200 years. 200 years of people living under the idea that being gay was a reason to hide, an unnatural way, a crime. This brought me to tears, not because it was a surprise because we have seen it the world over in history but because of the pain, suffering, shame and unrest that must have been suffered by so many simply for loving another human being. This diabolical ruling was repealed in 2018 under the current leader His Excellency Ram Nath Kovind.
Hema tells me there is still much work to do in rebalancing the National view on love and what that should or is allowed to look like. In fact really the work is in it's infancy. This is why Hema contacted me. She wants children to have access to material like my stories. To understand at a young age that love is love, with no prescribed look to it. This is a huge task and I am in awe of people like Hema who are taking a stand to change things for the better. I am utterly humbled that my book is seen to be a part of the mechanism for change and a kinder future.
So with that I went about my day safe in the knowledge that no matter how small you may think your contribution, it is all ripples in a pond - and very soon that tidal wave of change is coming - be a part of it
x Fliss x