Book: She: Ekla Cholo Re
Author: Dr. Shayan Haq; Santosh Avvannavar
Publisher: Hoffen; 1 edition (2015)
Paperback: 58 pages
Our society is governed by a simple rule. What we don’t understand doesn’t exist. As a result everything in society has to fit in a rigid framework. Every person has to be a male or a female. Even their characteristics, and behavioural traits are dictated by the society. But, what of the people who can’t be classified as either a he or she? Society either ignores them, or blames them for everything that goes wrong in the world. Trans-genders have been the victims of the irrationalities of society from the start of civilization.
She: Ekla Cholo Re is a story of one such person, Kusum. The only way Kusum can belong to our society is if she denies her own existence. Otherwise, she has to walk alone in this over-crowded world.
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.
She: Ekla Cholo Re begins with Professor Raj, who finishes his class, and goes for a long drive. He meets Kusum on the road, and gives her a lift. As their journey progresses Kusum opens up to the sympathetic stranger, and reveals her story.
A female, born in a male body, Kusum has difficulty following the behavioural dictates of the society. She strives to understand herself while her family tries to mould her to society’s expectations. Against her family’s wishes, she follows her heart with dire consequences. She does find love, and a friend. But can love win against the intolerant society?
The plot is tightly woven with lovely poems, which blend with the narrative. The book is a quick read, but it lingers with the reader. It depicts how much we so called ‘normal people’ are insensitive to the plight of those we don’t consider normal.
Kusum is an extremely likeable character. She is musically inclined, intelligent, and courageous. Not even the fear of abandonment can prevent her from embracing her true self.
Since, Kusum tells her story to Raj, there is more of telling than showing. There are also a few grammatical errors, and typos.
The tag-line of the novelette—a story meant to motivate all and sundry irrespective of their circumstances—perfectly holds true. Kusum’s courage to stand up for herself, and her determination to continue her path even after everything falls apart would serve to inspire everyone.
Kudos to the authors for writing Kusum’s story. Some stories need to be told, and read.
Buy She: Ekla Cholo Re at Amazon India
*Review copy provided by the author in exchange of an honest review.