It’s been an hour as I write this review since the time I have read the book SHE: Ekla Cholo Re (links to GoodReads and Amazon) by and I cannot stop thinking about the main concept of the book. How that simple concept had entirely defined our lives and had put constraints. In a way, it was created for a better way of living, but recently, it has proved to be otherwise. As I read every word in the book, I kept thinking about the many ways it has affected people, near and dear and how they were left with two options. Take an action of immense courage and change your life or go with the flow and accept your life. And how the protagonist is also faced with a similar choice. Social constructs.
SHE, is set in 1990 Calcutta, where a conversation is struck between Rajendra, a professor in psychology who calls himself Raj and Kusum. As Raj goes for his long drive on the highway to relax from his daily life, he spots Kusum and offers her lift in his car, which she accepts. On the way, she narrates her story, which starts as a narration, but moves towards a conversation. And the way the author had set the scene in a car, going on the highway, connects the reader to the events happening in the book. As we go on a highway, we think of our past actions as the scenery in front of our car goes behind. And talking of somebody’s past in a situation like that is much effective, as shown by the author. SHE talks about Kusum, a person who doesn’t fall in the binary bracket of HE-SHE and the challenges that she had faced in her life.
She tells how the parents had varying opinions of what the child would be in the future. It was not if the child would become a doctor or an engineer (as the present situation is), or something else. Their opinions were about if the child would grow to be a man or a woman. As the child grew, feminine side of the child had dominated, but the father told everyone that the child was a son. And he had forced the child in ways to maintain that masculinity. She falls in love with a boy, Debu and again social constructs comes into play as a vile monster that feeds on happy souls. They are separated, but somewhere deep within they still long to be together. And such an opportunity presents itself when they meet again many years later. As their parents are opposed to their relationship, they maintained it a secret, which didn’t last long. Debu suggests to her to undergo a sex change operation so that they can marry safely. Debu’s father gets to know of this and he threatens his son that if he marries Kusum, then he would kill himself, thus making Debu and Kusum apart once again. With her heartbreak, she has no option but to feel strong. With help of a friend, she gets a job in a library. That feels like the first time in her life when she was accepted truly, not caring about her baggage and status.
Social constructs has played a role of a monster in the life of Kusum and the only way she could face that monster was to be strong. All she yearned in her life was to be accepted, which her own father had denied her of. This books makes us think, in many ways. But the most important of all, about Social constructs.
Are we far behind from the modern times? Or are we too forward? Do we need to change the social constructs to adapt to the modern world?
A wonderful book, that is definitely worth reading more than once. A book like this can kindle the fire, which burns down the walls of the social constructs.