Saturday, 16 May 2015

My Thoughts On A Book - 'The Dressmaker of Khair Khanna'

The second book I mentioned in my previous post - 'The Dressmaker of Khair Khana'.

SubhanAllah, it was a beautiful read. Simply put, this is a story written by yet another journalist who lived with. and witnessed what women with grit can achieve.

I was expecting some heavy emotions - the kind of sentiments that one will imagine when five young women are driven to make a living - both to feed them and their community - when the Taliban seized control of Kabul.

But I found myself rejoicing with smiles and cheering them on throughout the book.  With dreams of a good education dashed, Kamila Sidiqi led her sisters to take up dress-making. With the men in her family away from them, she is left without a choice but to bring food to the table. Her faith in her Creator, her will and tact brought so much more to the livelihoods of other women's families too.

Every time the sisters' made the perfect stitches, received a new order, managed to deliver a last minute bulk-deal, I was 'clapping hands' at their success and strength to hold together. At the marketplace, within the Sidiqi household which had become a make-do garment production line, at their business ideas (pretty bold ones), etc.

What was so attractive about this book was the reality - of how women are natural fighters. Not sounding cliche, but the book brought this out so beautifully. They - the sisters and other young Afghani women who came to join their business, had no self-pity. They all wanted to survive, were all professional-minded and really got down to business. I must say this again, such a beautiful display of strength.

I was finishing up the book while I was at the hairdresser's. Towards the last few pages, the authour, while meeting up with one of Kamila's brothers after some time later and hearing him recollect what his sisters have achieved - admits tearing - her first time on a reporting project.

At that point, as a reader, I reflected at what the girls had gone through too - and my eyes welled up, right where I was. Women fighting hard, to keep their families together, not giving up, and believing that Allah will make everything okay ... is just so amazing. Something so very close to my heart...

Definitely worth a read... for lots of inspiration.

My Thoughts On A Book - 'Thayyal Machine' (Sewing Machine)

There are two books that I read some weeks back and have been wanting to write about. Have only found time now though. There is a regional library at two bus-stops away from the place I board to head home. On days when I stay late enough to complete Maghrib prayers at the office, and AZ also has to work late, I venture into this library.

It has been ages... oh my... even years since I last read a Tamil book. In fact, the last I read were a couple of fiction novels when I was doing Tamil Literature for 'A' Levels.

Not that I avoided reading them. Well, there's really no excuse for only reading English now.

Therefore, picking up the first book - 'Thayyal Machine', translated as 'Sewing Machine' felt somewhat like a good start. The fact that it was written by an Indian Muslim female author made my decision pretty easy. Mrs Noorjahan Sulaiman - the authour - her photo on the back cover quickly resonated with me too. The kind of personality and profile from the community whom my Mother can most probably relate to as a 'friend I know' when she attends a wedding - kinda type.

So, by now, it is obvious was really looking forward to read the compilation of stories. They were bundled to tell the stories of the kampong yesteryears. Pretty much something that my parents always boast about - the struggles, simplicity and friendships they still cherish.

Her stories were of simple people, and their domestic challenges in that time frame. All were of family bonds, and had inter-generational content. She had dedicated these to the people of the 'kampung days'. It wasn't a very thick book, and I completed reading in less than five bus rides back home (I don't usually read on the way to work, cos half of the time, I just gaze at what's going on around me and am already planning which project to tackle first - and oh yes, of course, strategically thinking of how best to stride quickly to office - as I am always not on time.)

I actually expected a little more from the book - about the daily nuances of life of that era, something stronger about the inter-racial bonds then, of community bonding, sharing, caring and things like that. 

But then again, she probably had a different purpose with the book. And by the way, they were all stories of real people that she has met and interacted with.

Apparently, her first published book is of an Islamic poetry genre. Will look that one up the next time, In-Shaa-Allah.