This book throws an important question – How could one preserve one's own roots in a cross-cultural society? Or rather, can one retain his/her individuality in a cross-cultural society? When some characters in the book could retain it, some utterly fails in it. Unfortunately, the latter did not even realise that they do have one.
This is Minal Sarosh's first book of fiction. The story progresses through Angela, the protagonist, a Gujrati Christian. The story happens in Nasik and from there extends to Ahmedabad. Ask what is unique in her book? It is her meticulous descriptions of place and events. You could feel the pulse of places and emotions narrated here.
Minal opens the story with Angela's ( protagonist) childhood and talks at length about the social scene which existed then. Gujrati, Tamilian, Malayalee – everyone stayed together, she says. But as years flew by, the transformation occurs - the secular scene slowly turns into communal. Amidst these social changes, there are some who steadfastly hold onto their beliefs. Even for a moment, they are neither ready to budge from it nor ready to put themselves in others' shoes. But there are some who dares to delve into their inner self to know their identity and roots and one such character is Sarah.
Though the protagonist is Angela, my thoughts always lingered around Sarah, Angela's cousin. I felt she is the one who could be called 'liberated' in the real sense. When Angela just went with the flow, Sarah showed some courage to know to her roots. Being a Christian does not stop her from participating in the Gharba dance or many such things which she was not allowed to do just because she is a Christian. It's also strange that Sarah was finally let free by a superstition. I could relate to her strongly.
Unravelling Sarah would have offered the reader many a revelation. I wish Minal had delved a bit more into Sarah's character. I still want to know more about her. Apart from it, how people responded to the earthquake that hit Gujrat once, the gruesome Godhra carnage and also the riots that followed subsequently were also dealt with. She has got a beautiful language that her words could paint vivid pictures of everything for the readers.
I give her three stars. For a time fiction writer, she did well.
Minal Sarosh started her literary career as a poet writing in English. She won the commendation prize in the All India Poetry competition 2005 organised by the Poetry Society (India) Delhi.