Bapsi Sidhwa (background: Pakistani)
Year of publishing: 1983
Publisher: Jonathan Cape (1st edition), (2nd edition in 2005 by Sama Editorial and Publishing Services)
Number of pages: 226
A little girl finds herself all alone and lost amidst the riots that were taking place in certain parts of Punjab as the aftermath of the partition between India and Pakistan. Qasim, a tribesman from the mountains happens to be at the same spot also finding his ways out of the riots. With no one around and not having the heart to leave the little girl to her fate, Qasim decides to adopt the girl, names her Zaitoon and heads to find their destination in Pakistan.
Zaitoon was beautifully brought up by Qasim and leads a happy life in the glittering city of Lahore in Pakistan until her father decides to marry her off to a fellow tribesman from the mountains. The girl turns only 15 years old. With no heart to refuse the wishes of her father, she agrees into marriage only to find herself surrounded with the harsh realities of life.
Zaitoon faces the harsh treatments, constant beatings and humiliations in the hands of her husband who knows no love but savagery embedded in him through years of tribes’ culture. It is then when she garners all her will power and courage to find out a way for herself.
Will she find her way? Will she be successful in getting away from the ill fated life in the mountains? What kinds of struggles await her on her pursuit to her freedom? Will she finally gain her freedom?
These are the questions one will be tempted to probe as you read the book and it makes the reader wants to turn the last page to see what happens to Zaitoon.
Beautifully crafted in imageries and lyrics, Bapsi Sidwa tells us the tale of the struggling life of Zaitton through the portrayal of the culture and tradition of the city the author was brought up with. The introduction to the author by Aamer Hussein says that ‘The Bride’ is based on a true and tragic story but webbed very beautifully into a work of fiction by the author.
Personally, I enjoyed the book because for me reading different authors gives me insights into the glimpses of the culture and tradition of the country the author hails from. Reading Bapsi Sidwa has taken me through the different aspects of the lives of women in a culture of subjugation and control by men.
Note: The book is gifted to me by a young friend who had graduated recently and is following his passion by practicing freelance photography. He had the opportunity to travel to Pakistan by virtue of his practice as a Radio Jockey at ‘The Centennial Radio’ Thank you Zhonba for this precious gift.