Destiny by Shalini Akhil
In Destiny by Shalini Akhil we have the theme of connection, belonging, identity, culture, tradition, desire and change. Narrated in the first person by Akhil herself the reader realizes from the beginning of the story that Akhil may be exploring the theme of connection. Akhil has a fondness for Wonder Woman or more importantly the American version of Wonder Woman. She makes a connection with the American character and likes to play on her roof and imagines she is fighting bad guys. Who ironically look like her brothers? This may be significant as there is a sense that Akhil wishes to belong. She may not necessarily feel as though she is part of her family because of sibling rivalries. Which is very normal regardless of what culture a child may come from. Akhil’s cultural background is also important. She is being westernized by the material (cartoons and TV) around her and if it was not for her grandmother trying to instill an Indian tradition and culture in her. Things might very well have turned out differently for Akhil.
It is the grandmother after all who tries to make the Wonder Woman character that Akhil wants to be more Indian. She wants her grandchild to dress in Indian attire and not to distance herself from what is Akhil’s culture. She uses Indian clothes and Indian food to change Akhil’s perception of what Wonder Woman should look like. It is this adaptation that leads Akhil to a comfortable point in her childhood. She can be Wonder Woman and Indian at the same time. Something that Akhil had not previously considered and probably never thought of.
There may be some symbolism in the story which might be important. Wonder Woman’s attire changes dramatically for Akhil and it is this change which stops Akhil from being westernized any further. She is going to become the Indian Wonder Woman. Symbolically this is important as it suggests that by her grandmother’s efforts. Akhil is making a connection with India. Which may very well have been her grandmother’s intentions. Unlike Akhil (at the start) her grandmother knows the importance of a child knowing their culture and tradition. The food that Akhil eats is also significant as it further suggests the grandmother’s desire to change Akhil’s perception of what a super heroine should look like and eat. Again the grandmother has gone for a traditional Indian dish. Which further suggests the importance of culture.
The end of the story is interesting as Akhil appears to be comfortable with the changes her grandmother is making. She did after all consider Wonder Woman’s pants to look silly. It is the changes that the grandmother has made that make Akhil more comfortable. Which may leave some readers feeling as though all cultures, that are not westernized, have an important place in a child’s life. A child after all learns from the influences around them In this case it is Akhil’s grandmother who teaches her an important lesson. Ironically Akhil may not have realized she was being taught a lesson.