Friday, May 21, 2010

Bitter Chocolate by Pinki Virani

Two weeks back, I went to Crossword to pick some books. I spent about an hour or so but could not find anything good. Then suddenly I chanced upon this book called “Bitter Chocolate” by Pinki Virani. The book was about “Child Sexual Abuse in India”. I skimmed through the book, and it came across as an interesting book that dwelt on the horrors of Child Sexual Abuse, while discussing the myriad of cases which have been registered and the relevant laws, the revamping of regulations required and so on.

Perhaps it happened for the first time that I bought the book and immediately started reading it, and finished it in 3 days. It was a well-written but deeply disturbing experience. There are about hundred cases which get discussed and one is worse than the other.

There are few observations about the book.

• The book deals with a controversial topic, but not even once does it become sleazy. It only evokes hatred for the people who do it. Pinki Virani, who has been a journalist for several years, has handled the topic very sensitively.

• It is shocking to know that Sexual Abuse has happened to children as young as 3 months also, and it has nothing to do with gender of the child as well. In fact, it has been reported that sexual abuse of little boys has been on the rise and apparently, Goa, Kovalam and Mumbai are hotspots for foreign tourists for this trade.

• It is also shocking to know how wide-spread this crime is in the society, regardless of the social strata the kids belong to, their gender or their age.

• It wakes you up to the fact the child today is definitely not safe anywhere. You need to keep your eyes and ears open all the time to the tell-tale signs, trust your child and invoke trust in her / him so that they open up to you for whatever they are going through

• It is also disturbing to note that even parents don’t pay much heed to this and feel that kids will not remember this when they grow up or think about the impact it can have on their stable / perfect lives. But the child going through any kind of abuse is scarred for life, and it definitely shows up in any form in their lives. In fact, it has been pointed out that several abusers have themselves been abused as a child. But that of course, is not justification for such heinous act.

• Pinki Virani also points out the legal angle to this. What the child goes through when he / she does come forward to give a statement – our courts are unfriendly to the child, the kid can be intimidated by the abusers and his slew of lawyers, the kid is made to repeat the details of his abuse over and over again

• The book has captured a beautiful yet touching poem by a 12 year old victim:

I asked you for help, and you told me you would

If I told you the things he did to me.

You asked me to trust you, and you made me

Repeat them to fourteen different strangers

I asked you for help and you gave me

A doctor with cold hands

Who spread my legs and stared at me

Just like my father.

I asked you for protection

And you gave me a social worker.

Do you know what it is like

I have more social workers than friends?

I asked you for help

And you forced my mother to choose between us.

She chose him, of course.

She was scared, she had a lot to lose.

I had a lot to lose too.

The difference is, you never told me how much.

I asked you to put an end to the abuse

You put an end to my whole family.

You took away my nights of hell

And gave me days of hell instead.

You have changed my private nightmare

Into a very public one.

This book is for everyone, and most importantly for a parent. We cannot close our eyes to what is happening all around us, no matter how disturbing. I did not know there was a play too on this.


  1. Wow, this sounds like a strong and important book. Though a disturbing subject matter, it's definitely one that deserves to get more attention. Thanks for reviewing it!

  2. I know! And the poem just tore my heart apart! These are disturbing subjects, but these unpleasant things do happen around us!

  3. I have this book and had read quite a few pages of it but couldn't continue reading it as it disturbed me. But whatever I have read had impressed me because not anywhere has the author tried to dramatise the facts!

    You SHud read "The Waiting Room" by Anupa Mehta which touches the same theme. Here is a link to my review of it

  4. Now I have got all 3 books by Pinki Virani....and 4th one just missed the other day - "Deaf Heaven". Will get it soon.
    Arre, I bought "The Waiting Room" long time back, after reading about it on your blog :-)

  5. I have been trying to get my hands on this book for ages. Will try crossword

  6. Hi Sonia, Buy it from Indiaplaza or Flipkart! You can buy online and you will get it in 1-2 days. If you don’t use credit card, you can go for “Cash on Delivery”. All online bookshops have that now! It will be cheaper.

  7. hey!

    i was googling for reviews of this book and chanced upon ur blog. very informative post
    thank you :)

  8. Hi AS, Thanks for dropping by! You too have a nice blog, and I am certainly going to be back to read more :-)

  9. heya...nice post..CONGRATS!
    i happened to read this book 2 years ago...and it's 1st on my list of fav. books.

  10. Hi Vistrit, I am glad I chanced upon this book. It is such a relevant book in current society and it is very well-written. Thanks for dropping by and thanks for linking my post to your's. That was flattering.