Dark skinned Pullamma dreams of being a wife. She is aware that with three girls in the family, there isn’t enough dowry to go around. But a girl can hope. She’s well versed in cooking, pickle making, cow washing — you name it. She’s also obliged her old-fashioned grandmother by not doing well in school. As the sixteen year old helps ready the house for her older sister’s bride viewing, she prays for a positive outcome to the event. What happens next is so inconceivable that it will shape Pullamma’s future in ways she couldn’t have foreseen.
Fair skinned and pretty, Lata would rather study medicine. Unable to grasp the depth of Lata’s desire, Grandma formalizes a wedding alliance for the girl. Distraught, Lata rebels. She ends up pregnant. The ensuing scandal forces her into marriage.
Lata ends up poor, uneducated and married to a man she cannot abide. Pullamma, meanwhile, is living Lata’s dream — she is rich, powerful, and married to a good man. The only hitch, from Pullamma’s point of view, is that she cannot acknowledge her husband in public. And, oh, the fact that superstitious villagers think she is Goddess.
Tell A Thousand Lies is a sometimes wry, sometimes sad, but mostly realistic look at how superstition, and the colour of a girl’s skin, rules India’s hinterlands.
Rasana Atreya left a comfortable job in IT because she thought roughing it out as a penniless writer was romantic. She’s a blogger, and the mother of two grade schoolers who’ve been begging for the chance to design the cover of her ebook. Maybe next time, kids!
The unpublished manuscript of her novel, Tell A Thousand Lies, was shortlisted for the 2012 Tibor Jones South Asia prize. She can be found at: