'Apradhini': is a narration of five stories from 'Apradhini: Women Without Men', written by 'Shivani' Gaura Pant (translated into English by Ira Pande). The stories are real-life experiences of the author with women who have been imprisoned and given life sentences for crimes that include murder, dacoity and armed robbery. As an invitee to one of the prisons on the occasion of Holi, she journals the tales of the women she meets. The five stories are of:
Chanuli, a pahari girl imprisoned for killing an upper caste Hindu woman of her village. What the judge did not notice during the case’s trial is that Chanuli didn’t kill the woman intentionally, but merely threw the sickle at her in anger when the woman mocked her and called her a whore. She is a devoted newly-wed wife, and spends her life in prison, waiting for her presumably dead husband to come and rescue her.
Janaki, a Punjabi woman is married off at the young age of sixteen to a forty-eight year old man, who has a fearful temper. She innocently falls in love with his younger brother who is closer to her in age. While they plot to kill the husband together, the execution is carried out by the brother. They are both caught and serve life sentences, but remorse is not the word the author pins to Janaki’s sentiments.
A light-hearted story of Muggi, a fifteen year old girl who is taught to charm gullible men by her sister and brother-in-law. Together, they marry Muggi off to a series of widowers, whom she pretends to love, only to rob them and flee. However, she falls in love with her fifteenth husband and gets caught. Both she and her brother-in-law are sentenced to prison, and the day the author meets Muggi is her last in the jail. In a surprising turn of events, her mother-in-law and her last husband are waiting to greet her with open arms.
As the author is about to leave the prison, her thoughts are haunted by two women from her past who, while not incarcerated in a physical prison, were trapped in a prison of their contexts and minds. One of them is Vaishnavi, a Hindu nun, she met when she was a child. She recalls the nun’s manly appearance for which she was tortured in her marriage. Ill-treated and abused, she pushed her mother-in-law and husband off a cliff and renounced the world to pay for her sins. The other is Rajula, a victim of the age-old tradition of Hindu upper caste men keeping singing girls as mistresses. After killing her illegitimate new-born, she throws all her worldly belongings into the river and survives leprosy on the streets by singing a lone song to passers by.