They say,” Don’t judge a book by its cover”. This is so true and, I would surely want to add to this. Don’t judge a book by its name. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal, is one such book. For reasons explained above, (yes I judged the book by its title), I overlooked this book and didn’t bother to add it to my to-be-reads, until a fellow blogger recommended it.
And am glad I read it!
So here it goes
Nikki is the young and sassy twenty something girl. The next generation to Indian Immigrant parents in the UK, and having spent all her life amidst the traditional mind set of the Sikh community, desires to break free. A law school dropout, she begins to move away from the community, to go the western way. She works as a bartender in a pub, after her father’s untimely demise, and the family is financially strapped. On a whim of an impulse she takes up the job of teaching creative writing at the Punjabi community centre. However she soon realizes, that the group of women who have enrolled are, in fact, a group of widows, turned up for basic English literacy course.
“Every woman has a secret life . . .”
As Nikki tries to battle out this confusion, one of the widows with a decent level of reading and writing discovers an English erotic fiction belonging to Nikki. She reads it aloud to the rest, and after a session of giggles and laughter, the ladies decide that more than their need for basic literacy, they would want their erotic stories penned. The task is taken up by their friend, as each of the ladies narrate sensual tales, with vivid descriptions and explicit acts of carnal love. What ensues is almost hilarious, as Nikki realizes that beneath each of their veils is a life of fantasy, memories of bygone days and a mind filled with zest. She takes it upon her to convert the classes into an opportunity to liberate these women from the shackles of stereotypes, keeping their adventure hidden from the highly conservative brotherhood and community. As the women tumble out their stories, Nikki discovers much more. There are shocking revelations, gossips, and an emerging scandal. Nikki has to handle it all, amidst the turmoil in her own life.
What stands out?
The book with its simple story addresses and weaves together multiple facets. A lovely East meets West read, it reveals the existing thought process, as well as, the contrasting and emerging thoughts, amongst the Indian immigrants living in Southhall London. It touches upon breaking up of traditional values, the emergence of modern feminism, and the clash when women dare to be independent. It speaks volumes about the mindset associated with widows that’s still prevalent at large. Constantly subject to isolation, these women find themselves lonely, and being illiterate makes matters worse for them. Their desires and preferences are often shunned. Their need to express their sexuality is considered a bigger crime.
Should you pick it up?
Don’t go by the title. This is not one of those sensual or stimulating book of eroticism. It has its own style of wit and humor. There are subtle messages strewn across the story, people who warm your hearts and women with the courage to dare. Don’t expect eloquent prose or English that would mesmerize you, it’s a basic form of narration that brings together a lively and thought provoking read.
Worth your time!
The book is available on Amazon in paperback and e-book format.
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