The daughter of a housemaid and an elephant chaser from a South Indian village, Shilpa Raj believes now that from the beginning she was destined to take a different path. At sixteen, her need for self-discovery drove her to begin writing this moving memoir of her turbulent past.
Shilpa Raj completed high school with distinction in 2011—the first in her family to do so—and received a Master’s degree in psychological counseling.
And many readers would surely be interested in knowing why you named the book The Elephant Chaser’s Daughter? Is there any story behind the title or some hidden message?
I am an elephant chaser’s daughter. After spending years as an illicit liquor brewer, my father took up the job of chasing away wild elephants from the village to protect sugar cane fields and homes. He has narrated to me and my siblings so many stories of his encounters with wild elephants and I admire his courage.
Your memoir gives very much importance to education and we all know by now that your education happened at Shanti Bhavan. I have read that you also teach the kids in your leisure. How much do you think a good education can make real difference to our
Education is the answer. I strongly believe that lack of proper upbringing and poor quality education are the reasons for many of the problems faced by our society and the nation. It is not sufficient that only a few from well-to-do families can avail the opportunity of a good education. We must figure out how the nation as a whole can offer it to everyone. A good education brings about an enlightened population and productive workers. In turn, it will uplift families, bring about better understanding between different segments of the society, and make economic progress. But most importantly, a quality education with a holistic developmental approach will help raise individuals with a deep value system and a social conscience. They will question the wrongs in our society and bring about positive changes.
When you are a female born into a poor Indian family, the odds are already stacked greatly against you.
The human drama captured in this memoir is nothing short of amazing – the struggle between the two worlds of one’s existence. Written with raw honesty and grit, this is a deeply moving memoir of a young woman confronting her ‘untouchable’ status and her aspirations for a good future.