To have my book reviewed by friends and journalists was of course very nice. But to have my family friend cum psychiatrist review the book in such a beautiful way is a sure certificate of sanity.
Before you read the review, here is a family joke:
When I was sixteen years old, my mother took me to an ear specialist.
This was what the doctor, after a thorough examination, wrote down the diagnosis:
Mother thinks daughter cant hear. Daughter is sixteen years old.
Book review- By Rita Aggarwal - Consulting Psychoanalyst.
( Hitvada - Sunday Times, 15th February, 2009)
“A Grasshopper’s Pilgrimage”
Delightful is the word. Gopika’s, hip hop through the different modern brands of Hindu religion in her spiritual quest for the universal truth and search for her-self is a story that is told in an effortless and humorous way. It does not have the heavy weight of a false seriousness about God realisation nor does it have the suffocating intellectualism of the philosophical search for truth. Instead, it is full of life in all its colours including rebellion, disgust, fear, love, nurturance, altruism, and passion. The protagonist is a young ‘bhakt’ and follows the path of ‘bhakti’ and devotion. She gets fascinated and attached to whichever saint she comes across in her journey and wants to explore their philosophical teachings. She picks up many pearls of wisdom from all of them, not condemning, but accepting all of them as they touch her life. She sings, dances, paints, cooks, cleans, serves, nurtures, heals and everything that is required to come close to God, through his mortal mediums. She does not study the religious texts and nor does she pursue truth through the path of knowledge.
Sudhir Kakar, the psychoanalyst says ‘the spiritual has to be the rule and not the exception in human life.’ He further adds that ‘the spiritual quest, except for those rare people who have set their sights on the summits of spirituality, is then not a search but a re-cognition of the many instances when the spirit touches the psyche. The challenge is to be aware of the spiritual moments as we travel through life, to look around and see again with the innocent eye.’ Manjushree’s writing has precisely that flavor.
As if, it comes straight from Manjushree’s heart. Her pen flows naturally with an ease that is amazing. The language is simple, good and enchanting. It captivates your interest and you cannot put it down till you finish it. It tickles your senses and makes the reading light. Many Indians would identify with the grasshopper brand of spiritual journey. She succeeds in telling the story effectively.
I have known the author Manjushree off and on, when she would come home to her parents during vacations, since her FTII days and she always came through as an honest person who believes in speaking her mind. As if she hated any pretense in her life, as they would express her-self straight and let the listener digest the facts as they like! I liked that quality of hers immensely as she stood for what she believed. Writing was her first love, she would say. However, it was her younger sister Rajashree, who penned her first novel ‘Trust me’, two years ago which is a best seller and Manjushree could wait no longer, perhaps!
The book seems that it picks up from her personal experiences and could be a lot biographical. I am not sure about that yet. This is Manjushree’s first book and she has a great career in fiction writing if she takes it up seriously. I am proud of her as she is a girl from my own city of Nagpur. She has successfully joined the band of Indian writers in English.
Published this year, by Rupa and Co., the book is reasonably priced at Rs. 150/- only. The cover design is by Nirali Shah and illustrations by Kajal Shah. The book has comments of praise by the famous lyricist Gulzar, Anurag Kashyap, the filmmaker and scriptwriter and by Amandeep Sandhu, the author of ‘Sepia Leaves’.