Finished reading Lopa Banerjee 's book Thwarted Escape: An Immigrant's Wayward Journey (Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Thwarted-Escape-Immigra…/…/9352074254)
I have to say this was an unparalleled reading experience. And I say this not just because Lopa has the enviable skill of being able to weave images with impeccably chosen words, or, because her writing has the magical prowess of pulling one out of familiar surroundings and transporting one to her world that demands to be explored and cherished - but because, she is an extremely courageous author.
As they say, the best way to know an author is to read her / his work. But what I usually get to see are veiled characterizations and tangential references, that feed off an author's personal experiences. What we get to see in Lopa's book, however, is a stark, no-holds-barred depiction of her journey - speckled with moments of ecstasy, of despair, of shame, of anger.
This is the gripping story of a journey. The journey of an immigrant in foreign shores embracing an alien culture and slowly becoming one with the warmth and the fragrance of the Midwestern air that evokes memories of a turbulent past in another land, at another time and almost compels her to take up a pen and write this masterpiece. The journey of a woman who decides to look back at her roots, throwing aside the rose-tinted glasses we often put on when we 'want to reminisce about how good our lives have been'. Lopa frees herself from the shackles of conventions that elders consciously and unconsciously rub into the psyche of unsuspecting offsprings and that we carry on our souls for the rest of our lives. Here is a voice that refuses to conform, to give in.
So we get to read about her association of the rains with a personal tragedy, and I note from her writing that even the embrace of a loved one with the rains pelting her windows could not erase those dark memories. The rains are still her tears.
She unabashedly speaks about her first innocent crime in her efforts to live up to the expectations at home. Haven't we all been there at some time or the other?
And while her personal experiences of male atrocities touch the reader, it is interesting to note how she dissects popular mythology and points out that while the stories of brutalities in our alleys and inside the four walls of our homes make us cringe, women have all along been tormented, judged and then put on a pedestal!
This is as much a social commentary as an individual's personal journey. And that is what makes this book such an enthralling read!