January 28, 2015

Book Review: Rebirth by Jahnavi Barua

Rebirth by Jahnavi Barua was shortlisted for the Man Booker 2011, and this on the cover of the book, alongside the woman on the cover, drew me to go ahead and pick up this one.

Every woman who has been pregnant will say that during those months, you fret and worry about how what you are doing affects the small life within, and how you would like to do the very best in your ability to ensure that life is unharmed in every which way. This story revolves around a woman, who is pregnant after many years and trying. And after all these years, her husband chooses to leave her, because of not having a child, or because of the 7 year itch, it is unknown. But he does come bounding back on knowing about the child.

And does a child set everything straight?
Do the mistakes made get washed away with the arrival of a child?
Or is it that what is expected for the want of a family for the child?

It is a book which flows so beautifully, the prose keeps you engrossed to the extend that you are transported to the Brahmaputra in Assam, and the fountain in the park at Richmond Town, Bangalore. The imagery which the author portrays is vivid and most importantly, it reached me. There are some detailed accounts of North east cultures/ rituals / and lifestyle. It is a region of India which holds  lot of surprises and secrets. Many would say there is so much about every region which might be new, but there is really something about the North east and its limited connectivity, which only adds to the charm which is otherwise too, immense.

The book moves across the 9 months the woman interacts, cares and changes herself to her changed life, all in anticipation of her child. It is a very short read, but it leaves you with a calm and peaceful feeling, though it does not really close the plot or give too many answers.

January 12, 2015

Book review: Disappearing Daughters, The Tragedy of Female Foeticide by Gita Aravamudan

The first 5 pages of this book, give you so many numbers, statistics to be more specific and you are left gaping at the words, wondering how and when the world will change.

Mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, uncles, aunts, everyone of them has played a part in ensuring the many girls in India do not learn how to crawl, sit up, stand, walk or speak. The means which they employ, it seems like they have studied to ensure the best practices and have optimized on the success ratios.

As a reader moves through the book, the primary thought that comes is, "Who is the true perpetrator of this crime?"

The father who wants a boy to take forward his family name?

The mother who wants a boy for a better standing with her in-laws?

The doctor who wants to earn that extra money in spite of doing what is illegal?

Each of them play a role in systematically eliminating the female fetuses across many districts, cities and regions. This is a practice which has infiltrated across strata and the methods might vary, and the complexity of processes, but the end out come is always the same - A Girl Dies.

Before I started reading this book, I had an image wherein the women were helpless, crying and were being forced into it. But, after reading Disappearing Daughters, I view the world through a different outlook. There is nobody who is not involved, but circumstances, or pressure is not always the reason. Many a times, those involved, do not see it as anything wrong, and many ethnic races view it as a tradition.

How does one reduce this atrocity or make people understand? 
By giving a positive reward to those who keep their girl child?

I am not sure.

But, neither is the government, or the many NGOs who are working in this field. There is a fair bit which education can change, and there is another large chunk which will be changed by society and the expectations set by it, and only by this!

But, all said and done, it is such a shame that one gender has been picked and picked repeatedly over these many years.

Is it a time for things to reverse? That would mean revenge.
I do not think that would be sustainable either.

The way ahead is for a change, a change from everything what everyone knows as of now.
New rules, and  new thoughts.

But, again, how long would that last!?