A psychotherapist with a long-standing love for India was inspired to pen her experiences in a newly published novel to try to give a voice to vulnerable women who are “treated shabbily”.
Lucy Beresford’s novel and “love letter to India” Invisible Threads portrays the inner conflict of the vast country.
It explores the journey of therapist Sara who travels to India to discover what happened to her husband who was killed in the country.
“In trying to find out about him, she ends up falling into the Indian sex trade in Delhi,” Beresford told Eastern Eye.
“She goes to work in India and one of her clients gets kidnapped and in order to try and rescue her, she ends up getting to know the industry and it ends up changing her life for the better.
“The main thread of the novel is the love story – the girl falls in love with her driver. The relationships she develops with her clients and colleagues support her and mobilise a change in her – fundamentally it’s a story about a woman who heals and that will resonate.”
The writer, who is a broadcaster as well as a practicing psychotherapist, said India, her favourite country, was a land of extreme contrasts, and she was keen to write about its inner conflict.
“Above all, I wanted to tell the story of women who currently in India have no voice,” she said.
The host of a two-hour chat show on LBC Radio, Beresford, who used to work as an investment banker, did a sabbatical at the Delhi Psychiatry Clinic after retraining as a therapist where she worked with women living in slums.
“It was totally out of my comfort zone but it was so fulfilling. There’s such a crush of people but that was the beauty of it as well,” Beresford said.
She admitted being shocked by the conditions of the vast slum dwellings where thousands of Indians live, after previously having stayed in top hotels during earlier visits to the country where she met cabinet ministers and top Bollywood stars.
During her visits, Beresford also met girls who had been sold into the sex trade, and women who escaped violent fathers or husbands and had been beaten or attacked.
“The glitzy world is quite high-octane, fast-moving and there’s so much sumptuous history as well. It’s still a meaningful slice of India,” the author said.
“There can be a risk that people think that if I, as a Western person go out to India, my life will be changed and I’ll be able to change people’s lives for the better. In the first chapter, the heroine has a discussion with her boss in which they discuss that very thing and they decide that that can’t happen – India is too nuanced.”
The novelist is currently in discussions with production companies to make a TV documentary about women in the Indian sex trade.
“What I’m very keen to do is an exposé on the raids in brothels. It could be very illuminating to show quite how awful the conditions in Delhi are.”
Beresford will discuss Invisible Threads with Bidisha, a British writer and BBC broadcaster, at Asia House next Tuesday (6) from 6.45pm, followed by a drinks reception and book signing. For more information, go to www.asiahouse.org/events/