- Title – She: Ekla Cholo Re
- Author – Dr. Shayan Haq & Santosh Avvannavar
- Publisher – Hoffen
- Genre – Fiction
- Pages – 58
- Price – INR 50
Synopsis: 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.
Review: The book has a bold red cover hinting the book revolves around a taboo topic with the title bearing a silhouette of the Howrah Bridge indicating that the story is set in Calcutta. The title and the way it has been written (with an inverted S) on the cover, brilliantly captures the essence of the plot hinting at the gender issue being the crux of the plot.
One read of the synopsis of the book and I knew, I’d not only love to read it but also talk about it on my blog. The reason being, amidst the endless debate on defining ‘humanity’ and what ‘being human’really means our social conditioning stands tall, dictating our behavior, our actions and also how we should follow the rules set by the so-called society even if it implies being cruel to fellow human beings.
“As I grew up, I realized that it’s so difficult to interact with a person without knowing the gender. May be we are programmed like that! A program that runs to mention the social aspects of one’s biological sex and behaviors associated with it.”
In a society where the roles of a man and woman are dictated to be followed with exactitude, there is no room left for those who don’t fall in either of these genders. A patriarchal society that fails to treat women as living beings (forget the talk of empowerment or equality being practiced) this book dares to touch upon the dilemma, the anguish, the befuddlement of a person who was by birth classified as a “he” but grew up with the sensibilities of being a “she”.
“He fancied being Debu’s girlfriend while he was seen as his younger brother.”
The story is about Kusum who is biologically created to be a boy but is a girl at heart. When she chooses to follow her heart, breaking free of the flagrant familial pressures that attempt at dictating her every move, she faces dire circumstances. The setting of the plot is simple and story has a natural flow that engages the reader, rouses curiosity and also fills our mind with thoughts about the futility of the societal norms that we follow.
The most daunting part of the book is, the book is set in 1990 but nothing much has changed as far as acceptability of all sections of human race are concerned in the 25 years that have flown past. The book is a success in highlighting the gender issues of transgenders and how they continue to lead a life of seclusion and non-acceptance.
“…he realized becoming a SHE from a he is a lonely path and it’s best to tread this path alone – Ekla Cholo Re!”
I wish to congratulate the authors on taking up the onus to write about this sensitive issue in an inspiring way. The book fills the readers heart with empathy for the sections of society who fail to fall in the clearly compartmentalized genders.
The language is simple, narration succinct and gripping that won’t let you put the book down until you read the end. The unpredictable ending adds to the charm of this book but the real charmer are the lines from “Ekla Cholo Re” the song written by Rabindra Nath Tagore written in Bangla with translation in English provided for the benefit of non – Bengali readers.
In his introduction of the book the author has mentioned that the motivation to write ‘She’ came from the song “Ekla Cholo Re” with the book touching upon the twists & tribulations of Kusum’s life in a powerful way.
The only suggestion I have is that the book would have benefited by making room for a little more dialogue in the plot. The interaction between Raj and Kusum could have been a little longer, the many issues touched at surface could have been talked about in detail adding to the experiences of Kusum to leave a lasting impact on the readers psyche.
“Make people and situation powerless by not reacting to reactions from the society.”
Nevertheless, the book is a commendable, bold attempt on talking about an issue that needs to be thought, talked and discussed about more openly and sensitively.
I highly recommend this book to be read by everyone whose heart bleeds at the discrimination humans face at the hands of other humans in the name of gender.
About the Authors: Dr. Shayan Haq: Shayan is a medical doctor and cosmetologist by profession working at Bijapur, Karnataka.
Santosh Avvannavar: He started his career as a consultant and Soft Skills Trainer. After his college education from NITK, Surathkal, he worked as a researcher at University of Eindhoven, University of Twente, and Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. He was also the Placement President while working at IISC, Bangalore.
He has over twenty-five publications of mostly research documents in national and international journals. He has also authored sixteen conference papers and regularly writes articles for a national and worldwide daily paper. He also works as an advisor for different organisations.
Rating : 4/5