Book Recommendation: Small Acts of Freedom – Gurmehar Kaur

I lost my dad when I was 21. She lost hers when she was 3 and her sister was 3 months old.

I lost my dad to a road accident, she lost hers to war.

We both had our mothers to help us walk through this trauma;  or probably, our mothers leaned on to us as much as we clutched on to them.

I cried my eyes out at several places while reading this book – the pain was so real, so relatable. You can literally hear her childhood voice, and imagine her as a little three year old trying to fit things into perspective. She waits around for years for her dad, an Indian soldier killed in war, and as she grows up, she struggles to understand what death entails. Written in different timelines, Gurmehar deftly switches the narrative, retelling her story from the perspective of her 3 year old self, her 8 year old self, as a teenager, and from her mother’s standpoint. Predominantly, this is a story of the two strong ladies who form a part of her life – her mother and her grandmother. Despite being widowed at a young age, and despite all the sadness that follows, they refuse to give up on life, to secure a better future for their daughters.

For a first time author, Gurmehar does a wonderful job. This book makes you realize the hollow dealt by the widow, the children, the family of a martyr, and the helplessness followed by death of a loved one. For all those who fetishize war from their living rooms, this is a must read. For all those dealing with the death of a loved one, this book is nothing but pure emotional support…

Quoting a Part:

“He kept fighting, they said. He told the man next to him to wait. “You only have a wife at home, I have two brothers too. I will go check the hill.” He took a bullet straight in his heart. The reports said it was his left ventricle.

We had built this house, this little family. I had bought curtains to put up in the new house. I had my heart set on a particular set of plates I had seen in the market. I knew we would buy them before his transfer. Our happiness were in the small things: in a plate, a new mug, curtains. We had built a life together with these little things.”

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