Today on TBF we have Weaving Water by Ajeet Cour from Speaking Tiger Books. This is a memoir, part 1 of which was published as Koora Kabara (Literally : Trash and junk) in 1997 and part 2 as Khanabadosh (wanderer) in 1983, both in Punjabi, translated by Meenu Minocha and Masooma Ali, respectively.
The story follows a young Ajeet Cour as she recounts the birth of her younger brother, Jasbir, lovingly named Ghuggi (Dove) and how with the mirth and laughter of bringing a boy into the world, she is thrown into the shadows by the household, only to be rescued by her maternal grandfather. Since this is set in the pre-independence era, the norms and culture of what was deemed right for women and girls, especially in a Sikh conservative household, marks it’s way through your heart through every whimper, yearning and lament.
Although this is a translated version, and more so by two different translators, I can’t really comment on their skills except they have both managed to encapsulate every beating aspect of Cour’s life with grace, anguish and beauty that shines through despite it being an interpreted version. I can’t honestly say that I made it through the book without a broken heart because it struck too close to home. The language, the dialogues and the sentiments of how her life is held on by her parents and the precedence of her brother’s life and wishes always overtaking her own, made my heart bleat with a burning sensation. I knew too much of what it all feels like to not find myself in her words and shoes. I would read a sentence and my feelings, long lost in the abyss of nothingness, would bubble up, making me cringe with every word.
She recounts every wrong, every right, every unabashed want and unwanted need and you can’t help but marvel at the sheer grit that kept her going. I remember reading a particular section about her childhood when she was so lonely that she wanted to look at the skies and watch the colours blend and smudge with the skittish dots of birds returning home and finding myself at my own terrace, thinking the same. She couldn’t make friends in school because she was too different. I could hear her through her loneliness and the impact it has on such a young kid.
It transitions from a young age to womanhood where she suffers at the hands of a wrong husband, unable to find true love. In her own words, ‘Can you imagine the stupidity of trying to find love in a marriage?’ Rings through the notion that marriage and love never meant the same for her.
I can’t help but marvel at the fact that I’ve been privileged enough to read about such strong women and rating this sheer beauty would be such an offence. I can’t rate the story that jarred me or the woman that scarred me.
Thankyou for bringing this gem to light, Speaking Tiger Books. Forever indebted.
Disclaimer : I received a review copy of the book in exhange of an honest opinion.
Until next time.