Sweet Sixteen. A young age for discovery, expression, and inspiration. For Shilpa Raj, it marked the literary beginning of a lifelong journey. With a mindset to become an author, she began a fruitful research into her past that centered on the hardships her family faced, as she strung together decades of memories to form the basis for her central theme. Now, at 23, she is ready to showcase what can only be anticipated as a debutant’s masterpiece.
‘The Elephant Chaser’s Daughter’ is a memoir of the harsh experiences that multiple generations of her family has had to endure. What I find enthralling about this book is that Shilpa is the first person of her age from the ‘untouchable’ community of three hundred million to write about the unimaginable hardships, indignity and violence experienced as an insider.
Coming from a background that is downtrodden, this inspiring young woman has risen strong, representing those like her whose dreams are shattered by unending trauma and lack of opportunity. It is admirable how Shilpa has taken it upon herself to become a role model, not only through her words but also through her deeds. Shilpa spends her free time counselling those from similar backgrounds and also teaches English.
In the seven years that it took to build this narrative, Shilpa also became the first member in her family to complete her higher education with an MSc in Psychological Counselling. Her hobbies span towards photography and dancing, both of which she embraces with the same passion she has for writing. To add another feather to her cap, she is also a major part in a Netflix Original Documentary titled ‘Daughters of Destiny’ which tells the lives of five young women, Shilpa included, who have had the courage and the determination to rise from the ashes. This series is awaiting release around the same time as her book.
The Elephant Chaser’s Daughter is all set to hit the stores by the 28th of July and will definitely prove to be a stellar display of raw emotions, complex perspectives and empathetic instances that will linger in readers’ minds for a long time. Stay tuned to this section for further updates!