By Sanskriti Singh
Sultana’s fight for women’s rights in a repressive, fundamentalist Islamic society has an extra sense of urgency. Terrorism is the threat. The gathering strength of religious leaders and the discontent of impoverished Saudies are threatening to topple the comfortable world Sultana has known. Royal women live as virtual prisoners, surrounded by unimaginable wealth and luxury, privileged beyond thoughts and yet subject to every whim of their husbands, fathers and even sons.
In several chapters of Desert Royal, Jean Sassoon brings out the painful life led by women of Saudi Arabia. The first chapter of the novel is ‘Munira’s Destiny’ followed by ‘Munira’s wedding’. Sultan’s niece Munira was given to a man who was of her father’s age. She suffered endlessly and bore the pain of life ravished by time and people. Munira’s father himself gave her away to suffer the pain and death.
Sasson describes the subjugation of women in Saudi society and their helplessness in the name of tradition. Women are nothing more than a commodity, a mere showpiece.
These chapters are followed by many more chapters that unravel the truth behind the veil of each dying woman and the girl child who faces harassment each moment and survives the ravages and torments.
This is a compelling story set against the background of a turbulent society pitting monarchy, external political pressures and the tug of economic hardships in the land overflowing with oil revenues.
This is the land that produced Osama-bin-Laden yet it is a land of beauty, history and home of Islam’s holiest sites.
Surrounded by unbelievable opulence, Princes Sultana fights for justice and she has reacted to terrorism in an equally desperate ways.
It is on the desert trip with her family that she discovers her truth of life and fights for the will of each slave and past of a “Harem”.
She witnesses her own nephew harassing a 14-year-old girl and she decides to fight. For the helpless women and daughters “Sultana’s circle” was the main essence of her quest to overcome the challenging situations.
Princess Sultana, the mother of two daughters Maha and Amani and a son Abdullah, is successful as a mother too. She raises her son to be a personality in favour of justice and teaches him to oppose injustice towards women.
Sultana strikes a chord among all women who are lucky to live their share of freedom. Women of this status are having everything but freedom. That is a gripping topic.
The book has deep essence of pain and imprisoned thoughts and is captivating.
(The author is a student
of Class X)
Book: Desert Royal
Author: Jean Sarron
Pages: 343 Price:399