Zohra by Zeenuth Futehally

March has been a good month for me – books-wise. I have loved all the books I read so far. Most of the time, I review only some of the books I read. This time, however, all the books so far have been review-worthy- which means that I am hard pressed for time. Sigh! But I can’t really complain – have been having so much fun reading them 🙂

Edited to add the book cover. Thanks Smita – I don’t know how I forgot, and did not even realize!

I came across Zohra, when I was searching through books on Amazon. It sounded very interesting, so I placed a request for it at the library.

Zohra was first published in 1950, and remarkably still remains very readable, even after more than 60 years of being written. Set in Hyderabad, when it was still a princely state, with Nawabs and their way of life still intact. Hyderabad has just become part of India, and the turbulent state of affairs of the state(and the country) is reflected in the people living in those times.

Zohra grew up in a Nawabi family, with her sister. Her mother and other women despaired of her interests in studying(mainly Persian poetry) because they feared that educated girls would never settle in domestic life. Although Zohra has hopes and aspirations of her own, she comes to realize that those are futile to hope for, given her background and resigns to her fate. She gets married to Bashir, an England educated young man, who comes to adore her, but fails to understand her.

She lives a normal married life, when her brother-in-law, Hamid returns from England. Despite all the years spent abroad, he seems to be the brother more comfortable on Indian soil. Both brothers clash on several issues like modes of political protest. Hamid, siding with Gandhian methods, while Bashir felt that the violent/aggressive methods would have been more effective. Hamid seems happy in home-spun Indian clothes, while Bashir insisted on wearing suits in sweltering Hyderabad.. In the middle of all this Zohra, trying to balance duty with passion. Married to the brother who loves her, and attracted to the brother who loves and understands her.

Zohra’s life, her sacrifices, and her choices make up the book. A touching story, a tragedy which just had to happen..

The story also gives an insight into the lives of the Nawabs in Hyderabad at that point in time. People who believed that their lifestyles would continue the way it had been for years. Only some like Hamid believed that change is at their doorstep. The book also reflects the conditions, confusions and mindsets of the Indian Muslims who decided that India was their land.

A beautifully written book, that cannot leave the reader untouched. A story that will stay with me for a while. A wonderful period read.

Letting go..

Letting go, is probably the most difficult thing for a parent to do. The sweet-sour taste of experiencing your child becoming more and more independent is such a mixed feeling.

Poohi has gone her first sleepover, and I am feeling all happy and sad. She was so excited that she has been counting minutes. This is the first time she will be staying away from us. She has stayed with my parents back home, when I had to go to Bangalore, but never with anybody else. So I was a little apprehensive about it. Poohi on the other hand, was emphatic, ‘ Amma, I will be fiiine, I will brush my teeth and go to sleep, and don’t pick me up early in the morning, I want to play with M’.

So off she went, without a backward glance. I had a hard time trying to give her a quick cuddle. She was way too busy with her friend.

Yesterday, we had the school visit for Poohi’s ‘Big school’. She is going to start at a new school for reception, and is super excited about going to the ‘big school’. I was wondering how she would feel, at a new place, with new classmates. Luckily for her, there was one other child who she knew from her previous school.  We got introduced to her class teachers and the kids were off, playing, beading, drawing.. It was such a treat watching her, knowing that she was comfortable in the new environment, knowing that her teachers seemed really nice. The best part for me was to see that she was not put off by new things. She was quite happy with change.

It also gave me an insight to what is in store for me.  It is such a wonderful feeling when one’s child has the confidence to face the world without us. I am just grateful that she has that confidence and just pray that she continues to be as confident and happy. It is difficult to believe that the little baby that came to us, over 4 years ago, is now so independent and grown up(almost).

How am I going to manage when she goes to university 🙂

Now, that I have ranted, we are off to enjoy the childless evening by going for movie 🙂