Monday, April 6, 2015

Book Review: Dear Mrs. Naidu

My rating: ●●●●●

Mathangi Subramanian
Dear Mrs. Naidu
Delhi: Young Zubaan, Zubaan Books, 2015
131pp. 235

One of the few books which make you smile when you finish them reading, letting you drive home a ‘literary orgasm’, a sense of completion, a sense of achievement, a sense of "your mind and your heart growing”. 

For an author who is writing a book for the first time, I must say this is a job well done. A work of fiction, the book still discusses the issues which are real and quite prominent in India. These are a series of connected letters written by a twelve-year old to her idol, a famous freedom fighter, Mrs. Sarojini Naidu. The series of writing to one’s idol starts as a part of her class assignment, but eventually becomes a habit of the protagonist, (also) Sarojini.

The book begins with a powerful prose from one of Naidu’s poems, which, all through the book, gives immense inspiration to the protagonist to fight for her Right to Education (RTE). All through her this fight to make her school a ‘good’ school, compliant with RTE, Sarojini relates her struggle with Mrs. Naidu’s fight for independence.

Do not think yourselves as small girls.
You are the powerful Durgas in disguise.
You shall sing the Nationalist songs wherever you go.
You shall cut the chain of bondage. And free your country.
Forget about the earth. You shall move the skies.

Halfway through her struggle, Sarojini, having deeply bogged down by the challenges, writes an equally powerful reply to Mrs. Naidu’s above-mentioned lines.

When there’s so many people and possibilities dragging you down, Mrs. Naidu, it’s hard to feel like Durga in disguise.
How do you forget the earth when it’s always beneath your feet? And when no one wants to help you, how do you move the skies.
However, the book concludes with a happy ending, spreading a lot of positivity around. The book not only enlightens the reader with a lot of information about something as basic as RTE but also proves to be an important source of information, inspiration, motivation and, most of all, gradual progression. There is a contact list of various NGOs, which religiously work for child rights, included at the end of the book, which should come handy to all of us. The language of the book while being simple, is extremely pulling and engaging and compels you to read till the end in one stretch. I would surely want to overlook a lot of grammatical mistakes I found in the content, for they did not turn out to be a major turn off for me. My take-home lesson from the book would be the protagonist mentioning Mrs. Naidu’s reply A chacun son infini (to each her own infinity) to a famous French saying, A chacun son destin (to each her own destiny)!

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