How Indian are you? Do you remember being regaled by the tales of your ancestors? Do you remember the fragrance of those traditional delicacies that wafted out of your kitchen? Many such questions ran through my mind while I read ‘Queen of Dreams’ by Chitra Banerjee Divakurni.
The book has been a journey of sorts. For the character Rakhi, it is a quest to unearth secrets of her mother’s past, trying to find her own place in the American culture. To add to this maslin, Divakurni also writes about her struggles as a divorced mother. What attracted me to this book was not the basic story, but this line, “A dream is a telegram from the hidden world.” This book is filled with many more such gems, which I will leave for you to discover.
Divakurni’s characters are relatable, but they are unique in their own ways. Rakhi’s mother seems to be like the conventional mother. But, once the reader unveils the layers of her character, realisation dawns that a great deal of grit and courage is required to make the choices that she made.
Whenever I read any book, it leaves me with a thought. Something that helps me become a better person. Divakurni has effectively covered the aspect of identity of an Indian in a foreign nation. The dilemmas and the yearn for anything that connects the person back to his or her homeland has been brought out. What made me think was the identity of an Indian in India. In aping the west, have we retained our roots? Have we felt the Indianness that should be there within us?
What I love the most about Diasporic writings is that these writers can see their homeland in a way, which even most of the citizens can’t. Divakurni through Rakhi’s father shows how the traditional delicacies like Singaras, Rasogollar Payesh and Dhakai Parota show Rakhi a glimpse of the country that she has been wanting to see. A country which she had connected to her mother’s past and knowing about it would make her come a step more closer to understanding her mother.
Divakurni knows her craft and has never failed to amaze me with the depth of the thoughts that she expresses in her books. She never leaves the reader empty minded. She gives the reader questions and thoughts that may even help him or her shape the current circumstances for a better future. Her books have a voice. They have a soul that connects to the readers’ and takes them on an unforgettable journey. That is Chitra Banerjee Divakurni’s magic.