Bhaunri – the name enticed me. When the book arrived, its lovely embossed cover with a Rajasthani woman almost jumping out of it, made me admire its cover designer. My only fear was, would it another story of the sad state of women in villages of India, by someone who has never lived there. Well, there was no reason to fear.
This is a story of free-willed women, who give and take from life exactly what they want. They do not just demand, but they are willing to give too. It is about the women, who take charge of their lives, they bear the fruits of their decisions good or bad. Subtley, it also talks about the things mothers teach their daughters and how it stays with them and defines their journey once they step out in the world.
Bhaunri is born to a mother who did not think twice before taking her life where her heart was. She did all that it demanded, the cost of your decision, the cost of being your own defense but getting the one thing you wanted. She carries this legacy with her to her husband’s home.
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Bhaunri falls in love with her husband. She takes time to figure out her marital family. Her mother in law is like a dream come true, to begin with, her father-in-law is missing for a long time. Some members she never knew about emerge from the shadows of the family skeletons. The relationship develops with her husband but not without some knots that must go.
It is a lovely story of how relationships change and how the young girl never fears the marital family that is wealthy, powerful and can overwhelm her on any parameter.
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You get the introduction of a rural home in India that is centered around running the household, managing the cattle and doing period things as the season’s demand. The men stay out mostly while the women hardly step out. Like every family, there are skeletons that come out. However, what is beautiful is how the perspective of the skeletons change as the story moves.
The language is beautiful, it is simple and lyrical. The metaphors are fresh even though they are rooted in the earth of Rajasthan. For example, when the author describes it for the first time, she says ‘she is like a river that flows below the sand but appears only at places and when she appears she shines like the moon. Even in the dialogues, there are lovely metaphors. It is like reading prose with poetry as an integral part of it.
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What I also appreciate about Anukrti’s language is that it keeps you rooted in the unnamed village of Rajasthan. She uses the right amount of local words. Mostly in the way characters address each other, and that never lets you out of the space and time of the story. Most authors today carry the modern urban language into their stories, including the bestselling ones. To write in English, but give the feel of being in the local ethos is a skill that not many authors have.
The story moves at a steady pace and it never slows down or takes sudden turns.
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As I have already mentioned, the cover design is beautiful. It has the lone woman, wearing her Odhni the Rajasthani way emerging out of the cover. The red and yellow combination is lovely. The font used for the title looks like as if it the wall of Bhaunri’s home.
I am definitely looking forward to more books by Anukrti Upadhyay.
It is a small story that you can easily finish in a sitting or two.
Do read it.