Sonia Faleiro’s Jaipur Literature Festival session was on her book ‘The Good Girls: An Ordinary Killing’ based on the infamous true incident where the bodies of two young girls were found hanging from a tree in Katra Village, Badaun district in Uttar Pradesh in 2014. The incident caught world attention and journalist and writer Sonia Faleiro visited Katra. Based on her experiences and her takeaway from the journalistic research, she wrote her novel explores the psychological aspects of female friendships, personal choice, community’s interpretation of sex, love and romance, and the thought behind honour killings.
Sonia spoke about her visit to Katra, the challenges and learnings and how that influenced her writings. “I had been thinking about writing a book on sexual violence, from what I saw and my own experiences while growing up. Even after I travelled to a different continent and all these years have passed by I still shudder to remember the incidents. And, then I saw what the whole world saw; the picture of the girls hanging from a tree, and what struck me was looking at these girls going about their lives before this happened and the group of women sitting there looking up at the bodies, their mother, grandmother with utter disbelief. I wanted to process those feelings, understand who were committing the crimes, and why can’t we stop this epidemic.”
She was in conversation with Samanth Subramanian and said that she may have stayed there and met the members of the families many times, but she surely didn’t gain their trust rightly so. Sonia used her experience as a journalist to patiently seek answers to her questions.
Her novel begins on the fateful night of 2014 summer when two teenagers (Sonia calls them Padma and Lalli) disappeared from their home in the village of Katra Sadatganj in UP. The next morning their dead bodies were found hanging from a tree in a mango orchard. Sonia uses statistics but says she tried to make the book less about statistics and more about the people and their thoughts and situations.
The book ‘The Good Girls: An Ordinary Killing’ is published by Penguin Random House