If you are under the assumption that it is just your life which has been overburdened with far too many turns and twists then it is about time you pick up a copy of the recently launched autobiography of Ajeet Cour. ‘Weaving Water’ (Speaking Tiger) where this novelist has weaved in the varying patterns to her life.
Written in the most uncomplicated of ways, its one of those autobiographies which bare the utmost. In the Indian scenario, this comes as a refreshing change. In the last few years, I have read autobiographies of several personalities who insist on harping only on the positives of their professional lives and shy away from mentioning any of the personal lows. But, Ajeet Cour, has written details about her abusive marriage, her fallout with her own family, the struggles she faced as a single mother trying to raise two girls and then the loss of the younger daughter, Candy.
What is interesting in the book is the starkness with which she has narrated each one of the turning points in her life. Her words have such an impact that one is compelled to sit back and reflect on how hard it gets for a divorced woman to survive in a society like ours.
It is also a survivor’s story. She learnt to face each one of those hurdles and sorrows with not just a strong conviction but with an undying determination. The reasons behind Ajeet Cour’s survival could be several but during my interactions with her what struck me the most was her very personality. If she wasn’t equipped with grit and determination she couldn’t have had the nerves to take the decision to walk out of an abusive marriage and manage to live life at her own terms.
It was only after a while that Ajeet Cour managed to find a suitable place to call her own and it’s best to quote her on ‘how’ this happened. ‘Indira Gandhi had asked me to compile a directory of Indian women in April 1975, for a women’s conference in Mexico. During that period, I met Gandhi several times, and one morning she invited me for breakfast. She asked me what I did, and I told her about my writing and also about the school for girls from the slums that used to run in a DDA flat in Saket, which Daarji had bought for Candy. Gandhi told me to visit a vocational school in Nizamuddin and see how they ran it. I became very interested in starting a similar school. Gandhi wrote to Jagmohan, who was the vice — chairman of DDA at that time (1975), and asked him to allot a plot of land in the Siri Fort area, which was then a jungle…’
After I completed reading Ajeet Cour’s autobiography, I kept sitting and introspecting how only a few amongst us manage to fight. To quote Ajeet Cour on this, “Pain and loneliness hold in them the ultimate truth of what life is. Regrettably, the essence of either of the two is
not easily amenable to being shared with others. Every individual has to endure his or her own pain, and loneliness, in a way pertinent to him or her alone. The only difference lies in how each one of us carried our cross while manoeuvring the pathways of our moral existence.”
She deftly describes her own struggles in these hitting words-‘In actuality I was perched like a mutilated falcon on the highest, leafless branch of an old, denuded tree humiliated, intensely ashamed by the wounds I bore, trying desperately to keep them under cover, traumatized by the terrifying quiet, the overwhelming emptiness, the muted solitude, when unbeknownst me, my story found voice, my thoughts urged articulation.’