Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Love of Divena by Kay Marshall Strom

Face to Face With Slavery 

By Kay Marshall Strom 

My latest book, The Love of Divena, is fiction set in fact. On my first trip to India, I met a couple I’ll call Ajit and Jaya. Both came from the lowest rung of India’s social ladder—Dalits. Outcastes formerly known as Untouchable. Both had spent their entire lives working in a local landlord’s fields.

Ajit’s family belonged to the landowner because many years earlier, in a time of desperation, his grandfather borrowed a few rupees from the landowner’s grandfather, agreeing to work off the debt. The landowner’s grandfather credited Ajit’s family for their work, but he charged an outrageous amount to rent a small hut and buy a few handfuls of rice. Because only landlords could read and write, they made certain that for each generation, the family’s indebtedness grew and grew until it could never be paid off. Ajit was doomed from birth to spend his life working in the landlord’s fields. From dawn to sundown every day, under the blistering sun or in monsoon floods.

Both Ajit and Jaya were bonded laborers, entrapped in the most widespread form of slavery today. In India alone, 10 million people are enslaved for generations in the same way.

 Jaya was thirteen years old when her father married her to Ajit. Every day she got up long before the sun, built a fire and cooked rice, then headed to the fields at dawn. She knew no other life. And whenever the landlord looked upon her with pleasure and told her to stay behind while the others went to the fields, she screamed inside, but she always stayed. She had no choice. He owned her.

But one day Ajit stepped between his wife and the landlord. “No, she will not stay behind with you,” he said. The landlord had Ajit beaten, but Ajit would not back down. The landlord refused them rice, but Ajit and Jaya said they would rather starve. When they managed to sneak away in the middle of the night, the furious landowner sent his thags to hunt them down and drag them back.

 But God’s hand was on Ajit and Jaya. They stumbled into a village of freed bonded laborers who hid them. The landlord expected his men to beat a sobbing woman and her cowering husband into submission. Instead, his thags were met by more than 100 freed slaves armed with clubs and knives.

“A village of people like us?” Ajit asked in disbelief. “How can you survive?”

“We got a micro-loan to start a dairy,” one woman explained. “We all have jobs to do.”

The village women had done so well with the dairy that they started their own bank so that they could lend money to others who wanted to start businesses. Like Ajit and Jaya. Today the couple sells vegetables they grow on their own small plot of land. And they are fast paying back their loan.

“We are not slaves anymore,” Jaya told me. “And we never will be again!”

 Actually, The Love of Divena is fact. It’s just framed in fiction.

In this final book of the Blessings in India trilogy, Divena struggles against an entire culture to proclaim a faith close to her heart while rocking the world of two families.

India 1990. In the final book of the Blessings of India series, Shridula, old and stooped at fifty-nine, makes her painful way to pay homage to the elephant god Ganesh, lord of success and destroyer of evils and obstacles. “Why are we Hindus instead of Christians?” her seventeen-year-old granddaughter Divena asked.

“Because we are Indian,” said Shridula.

So begins a spiritual journey for Divena as she struggles against an entire culture to proclaim a faith close to her heart while rocking the world of two families.

The ruts in the road hid in shadows, tree roots that jutted out to trip her lay camouflaged in shade. It forced Divena to walk much more slowly and carefully. She also had to balance a full water pot on her head and another on her hip.
“So large a load for so scrawny a girl.” Divena started at the sound of a man’s voice close behind her. “I could carry one pot for you.”
Selvi’s father, perhaps? Or someone who recognized her from the market? With one hand, Divena grabbed hold of the water pot on her head and with the other she gripped more tightly the one on her hip. She stepped deftly to the side and looked behind to see who the stranger might be.
Knobby-kneed and a bit hunched, the man had his chaddar wrapped high around his shoulders and neck, instead of around his head like a turban, so that it obscured his face.
With a gasp of dismay at so mysterious a person, Divena attempted to bolt away.
But the man acted quickly. He leapt after her and seized her by the arm. The pot tumbled from her head, though she managed to grab it before it fell to the ground.
“Now look what you have done!” Divena cried. “My grandmother needs this water!”
“Let the medicine woman fetch it for her,” the man said. “Why should you be her servant?”
Divena gasped in amazement. How did he know about Mahima?
That voice. The glare of defiance in those black eyes. Divena stared hard at the man who still gripped her arm.
Appa?” she said. “Is that you?”

Kay Marshall Strom is the author of forty published books. Her writing credits also include numerous magazine articles, short stories, curriculum, stories for children, two prize-winning screenplays, and booklets for writers. Kay speaks at seminars, retreats, and special events throughout the country. She and her husband Dan Kline love to travel, and more and more Kay’s writing and speaking take her around the word. Her latest book is the Christian historical fiction, The Love of Divena.

To find out more about Kay, or for contact information, check her website at www.kaystrom.com.
Visit Kay at Twitter: http://twitter.com/kaysblab
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Pick up your copy of The Love of Divena at Amazon
Pick up your copy of The Love of Divena at the publisher’s website


The Love of Divena Virtual Book Publicity Tour Schedule is here find a blog that is giving a copy of this book away. 

Check out these blogs for giveaway of this book:

Hardcover Feedback (10/15)

Geo Librarian (10/18)


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