Nots & Crosses


Nots & Crosses is a graphic novel, illustrating the biography of Phoolan Devi (1963-2001), who was also known as the Queen Bandit of India, and is portrayed as the reincarnation of Ching Shih (1775-1844), the most dreaded female pirate of China. This narrative features re-contextualized and thought provoking quotes by famous personalities on the lives of these women, illuminating the issues pertaining to oppression and how the notion of being powerful and strong, somehow, came to mean “To be tough and brutal like a man.”
The title “Nots & Crosses” is based on how girls are not supposed to act a certain way and all the obstructions and barriers faced by these women, this is what the “Nots” represent and the crosses are for how they crossed over these prejudices and defined their own path despite of being restricted and told not to.

as the reincarnation of Ching Shih for the purpose of weaving their

lives together and showing an intriguing similarity, as well as contrast

between their lives. What tickled my inspiration bone to write and

illustrate this graphic novel is a feather placed in my childhood.

I remember the early morning discussions, amongst my parents, on the

predominant topic of violence and crimes, especially against women.

The daily newspaper was always flooded with victims of rape, shut

down due to the “lack of evidence” or “anonymous reports”. The

articles were rarely about fighters who went ahead and took justice

into their own hands which, subconsciously, stayed within my head

for a long time. My curiosity grew along with me and then one day

I came across Phoolan Devi’s story which changed my life.

While I delved deeper into her story, I also looked at women who

physically fought their way to power while defying gender roles, thus,

leading to my interest in Ching Shih’s biography. Both these women

reached a position of power and were able to be heard, through different

tactics but at the same time for a similar cause. The juxtaposition of

certain events of their lives almost wrote itself. Through this narrative,

I hope to blaze the fire or, at least, ignite the flame, budding within us

towards this topic of oppression, empowerment of women and the need

to speak and be loud about the wrong being done to us and around us.

You may forget what has been written, you may forget what they did

but, I promise you, you will never forget how their story made you

feel, question and want to change the way things are.

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