Sharanya Misra

Daughter. A word that evokes myriad emotions all at once – Love, Care, Reliability, Support. As is oft quoted in Indian society “A son is a son till he gets a wife, a daughter is a daughter all her life”. She may not carry your name, but you know she always carries you in her heart. For all the times you term her a burden, her Bidai brings tears to your eyes for only you know the measure of your loss. Strange are our ways, where we welcome daughters as Lakshmi, sacrifice them as paraya dhan and yet, in our heart of hearts, hope they will always remain near. But what about the daughter herself? What goes through her mind during her journey with her family? Can her family’s expectations of her bind her to the extent that even harbouring the desire to soar the skies pushes her into the abyss of guilt? Can the love and concern that she bears in her heart for her family start to weigh in so much so that it begins to stifle her? What must a daughter do when the sense of duty she feels becomes the anchor that holds her back and refuses to let her leave the shore, even as she prepares to sail the high seas?

The Emancipation of Farzana Siddiqui by Radhika Tabrez is a beautifully penned story of a daughter Farzana who must face such dilemmas in her life and make a choice on the kind of person she wants to emerge as. A complex weave of emotions – love, sacrifice, deceit, responsibility – the book winds through Farzana’s life, not very different from the narrow gullies of Purani Dilli , with its unwavering and unforgiving ways. But life soon brings Farzana at crossroads, where realities are exposed, and treachery uncovered, leading her to question her beliefs, let go of pretences and decide once and for all if she is deserving of a life of her own.

While the plot itself is wonderfully original, what I found extremely refreshing was the style of writing. I loved the cultural references, that take you truly into the lives and mohallas of Purani Dilli and its people. I loved the flow of the story, always making sense, never losing direction. And finally, I loved the subtlety of the underlying messages, never glaring enough to take away from the story, but also never letting the reader forget, like an undercurrent, not surfacing but making its presence felt. And hence one finds nuanced thoughts sprinkled across such as “The only dignified thing to do with one’s age is to wear it with pride and comfort” or “She was a confident, financially independent woman…..but in the common parlance of society, they had still not been officially termed as virtues….appreciated from a distance, but no one wanted to bring home as a daughter-in-law or wife.” or “It takes a very long time for one to understand that a lot of what they compromise on in the name of living amicably under the same roof, in fact chews up the very foundation of their happiness” and “The strength to fight everything always comes from within. Nowhere else. No one else.”

A great book is one that can go beyond being simply words on a page and reach out to draw you into its world, making you one with the protagonist. The Emancipation of Farzana Siddiqui by Radhika Tabrez certainly is one. High on its emotional quotient, it is a lovely, soulful book that compels you to finish it in one sitting and leaves you wanting to be a better you.

This is an e-book. It is available for Rs.150 on Amazon Kindle and for free on Amazon Kindle Unlimited.

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