& occasionally about other things, too...

Saturday, August 04, 2018

The Scent of Mogra and Other Stories

Guest Post by Aparna Kaji Shah

There is no single story about a place or a people. The well-known novelist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has called it “The danger of the single story” because it is dangerous when we show the same thing about someone again and again; they become that, and all other possibilities are excluded. This is especially relevant in today’s climate, both political as well as social.

Aparna Kaji Shah
 In my collection, “The Scent of Mogra and Other Stories” the female protagonists have different stories to tell. They range from a fifteen-year-old girl from Jaisalmer, in eighteenth-century India, who runs away with the nomadic tribes, to a middle-aged woman in modern-day Mumbai. 

There is also the character of a grandmother in Toronto dealing with old age and disease; of a village bride who moves to Mumbai, expecting the City of Dreams to fulfill her every wish, and of a young mother in pre-independence India on her death-bed reliving the molestation by her father-in-law and fearing for her daughters after her death.

The title story, “The Scent of Mogra”, is narrated by a dead woman who is reminiscing about her life on Earth and about her daughter who she somehow knows is suffering. These are stories not just about women’s oppression and exploitation in a male-dominated society, but of resilience, passion, and triumph. The varied female protagonists, in their different time periods, go through the turmoil that is life-changing and that creates within each one an inner strength and a determination to move on. These women come into their own as life unfolds around them.

I am delighted to announce that “The Scent of Mogra and Other Stories” will be published this September by Inanna Publications. When I started writing these stories, some written in Toronto, and others in Mumbai while we were living there, I never gave a thought to having them published; I was so enjoying the creative process and the writing. But friends and family urged me to submit, and I did. I was very fortunate to be accepted by Inanna.

One of the themes that link the stories in this collection, women’s lives within a patriarchal structure, is close to my heart. But the writing of the stories took me outside of myself in a way that let me see the larger picture of women’s existence over the centuries; it gave me a deep appreciation of the unique texture of individual lives and relationships.

The stories will resonate with all readers, men and women, young and old, as they are drawn into the lives of the characters. The women who inhabit the stories inhabit the real world, and we all know someone like them. “The Scent of Mogra and Other Stories” will not only remind readers about the many issues that women face across generations and cultures but help cast a fresh eye upon them.

I hope that like all art that moves readers, viewers or listeners in its many mysterious ways, my stories will find a way to engage my reader’s heart, her imagination and intellect and provide the keen enjoyment that we all go to books for. Finally, my wish is that this collection will help someone feel less alone in the world.


I am excited about the launch of my book on September 28th, sponsored by The International Festival of Authors (Toronto Lit Up) and Inanna Publications, at Ben McNally Books in Toronto. I will read from my stories and sign books from 6 to 8 pm. I look forward to seeing many of you there. 

In case you would like to pre-order “The Scent of Mogra and Other Stories”, it is available on Amazon Canada, the US and the UK. It can also be pre-ordered from Indigo. You can follow me on Twitter @akajishah  and on Facebook at Aparna Kaji Shah.

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