Book: She: Ekla Cholo Re
Author: Santosh Avvannavar | Dr Shayan Haq
Price: 149 INR
Blurb: Set in the backdrop of 1990 Calcutta, She is a story about finding one’s own identity in spite of all odds. The story spins around the life of Kusum, a brave heart whose identity is often untitled and blurred; it does not belong anywhere, definitely not under the ‘he’ or ‘she’ bracket, thanks to our social conditioning. Will she be successful in her mission? Find out in She, an utterly absorbing read that derives inspiration from Tagore’s “Ekla Cholo Re” song, which urges everyone to move on despite the fear of abandonment from others.
My Rating: 4.5/5
I completed reading this book in less than an hour and after finishing this book, I thought about it for the entire day. One of the little gems that I have been able to discover because the author was generous to send me a copy for review.
When I saw the book, I was skeptical about the impact that this small book of 58 pages can bring. However, as I began reading, I was totally hooked to it. The narration is lucid and the language is simple yet profound. The pace of the book is so fast that I finished it within an hour.
The book deals with the life of a person named Kusum who doesn't fit into the conventional male female category. Despite the several stones and pebbles that society have hurled at her for being a transgender, she stood up on her own feet, undaunted. She embarked on a new journey after being abandoned by her parents and lover. Following the song of Tagore, Ekla Cholo Re, she chose to walk alone. She created her own identity and completed her graduation in psychology.
A professor called Rajendra notices a beautiful, young woman on an isolated road one day and immediately offers her a lift. She introduces herself as Kusum and he introduces himself as Raj.
Their conversation in the car forms the crux of the story. They instantly share a great rapport and start talking about a lot of things from marriage to music. Raj also invites Kusum to his house to have a Bengali lunch with his mother. She obliges and forms a nice rapport with Raj's Mom too, who initially thinks that she is Raj's newly wed wife.
As they begin their journey again, the conversation diverts towards family and that is when Kusum starts narrating Raj her heart wrenching story. The patience of Raj and the subtle vulnerability of Kusum is beautifully portrayed by the authors. Kusum is vulnerable and emotional while sharing her story, yet she knows how to keep her composure and not appear as someone weak.
The best thing about the book is definitely the way Tagore's famous song "Ekla Cholo Re" has been used to symbolize Kusum's journey.
Jodi tor dak sune keu na ase
Tobe Ekla Cholo Re
Ekla Cholo, Ekla Cholo, Ekla Cholo Re
If no one answers your call
Then walk along,
(be no afraid) Walk alone my friend!
The book ends on a perfect note with a lovely surprise. The book is embellished with beautiful and profound quotes, some of which I am mentioning here:
You are what you choose to be.
Make people and situation powerless by not reacting to reactions from the society.
I would say that love isn't enough because there is always a suspicion within us. This has led to a phenomenon called marriage.
Overall, this is a book to remember. I admire the way the authors have packed so much in just 58 pages. Beautifully written, the character of Kusum will surely motivate and inspire everyone. No matter what your circumstance is, you are what you choose to be.