Some prisoners pray, some weep, some just put down their heads and work themselves weary. Sudha Bharadwaj watched through the bars of her cell, and she wrote. This is her remarkably granular account of the world of women prisoners in Yerawada Jail in Pune.Bharadwaj was incarcerated here, in a high-security wing called PhansiYard, from November 2018 to February 2020. She takes us through jail life, her own and the other women's, from one season to the next, weaving in lively portraits of her fellow prisoners, their children and even their pets, and reflecting on everything from absurd rules, caste hierarchies, food, fistfights and friendships to the dismal absence of legal aid for the most defenceless of women.
While Bharadwaj is an unflinching observer of the harshness of prison life, this is not a bleak book. It is written with warmth, compassion and impish humour. It is Bharadwaj's tribute to the women around her who showed her 'every single day ', she says, 'how to survive injustice, how to remain hopeful . . . how to continue to live, love, fight and laugh, even behind bars.'
From Phansi Yard: My Year With The Women Of Yerawada (Hb)