Book of the Month – March 2020 A Woman Is No Man – Etaf Rum

IMG_20200403_201736_291.jpgSince it was March and there were lots of talk about Women’s Day, I picked up ‘A Woman Is No Man – Etaf Rum’ which was in my To Be Read pile for a long time. You read some books and then you read SOME books. This one left me shattered. I know that in many parts of the world women are still struggling for things that I take for granted every day. Choice, Freedom, Education, all seem very distant to many women around the world. That made me thinking whether I really do have a choice and freedom or just the perception that I have been given a choice and freedom. Can I go out in the night, Can I pursue whatever profession I want, Can I work late without getting an earful from the family, Can I choose a life partner, Can I leave him because I don’t want to be with him, Can I decide when to get married, Can I choose when to have children. I don’t think the answers to the above questions will depend only on me. I have to ask my family who in turn will think about society and then give the answers to my questions. The questions that are about ME and MY LIFE are answered for me by others. If I don’t consider them, I will be an outcast. Or worse, I will be called names that I don’t belong to this society.It was heart-wrenching to read the story of Isra, a Palestinian woman who is thought only to do household chores because she is a woman. She gets a basic education and reads a few books and gets the idea of love and independence. Then she gets married and moves to America where she hopes her life would be different. All she ever wanted was to be loved by her husband and family. But throughout the book, I felt that longing for love and appreciation was a crime in her world because she is a woman. They keep saying you are not a man to enjoy. You are not a man to have things the way you want. A Woman is No Man. Isra wishes she was born a man so that she could live the life that she wanted. Things become worse when she delivers female children and her husband starts beating her every day. On one horrible occasion, he beats her death. I wanted to pull his shirt and hit his head and tell him that it is not Isra’s fault that she could not bear a male child. I became too emotional to read the struggles of Isra. Then there is Deya, Isra’s daughter who wants to go to college but her grandparents want her to get married. To Deya, she can’t remember much of her mother and struggles to understand her mother. Will Deya learn the truth about her mother? Will she go to college? You would definitely want to finish this book in one go.The book has some very strong female characters too. Isra’s Mother-in-law and sister-in-law both are very strong women who know what they want from life. In fact, both fight with their families to get what they want. Isra admires both of them for their courage and wishes to be like them. I still could not come out of the book. It’s been a long time since I read such a powerful book. We all say Equality for Women, but is it really possible in this world. We do find men who respect women and treat them as equals but they are a rare few even in my world. There are men who wait for the consent of the woman and there are monsters who throw acid on the woman unable to handle rejection. There are men who treat their wives like royalty out of love and there are pigs that use the wives only for sex. There are men who appreciate a woman at the workplace and there are psychos who just cannot handle being outdone by a woman at work. And there are monsters of women who teach their sons to not treat their wives with so much love and there are some angels who love their daughters-in-law as if her own. That’s my world. This book gave me so much to think about. It even inspired me to do something about the cruelties faced by women. Will the world change and be better for a woman than it is today? Only time will answer. I sure pray fervently that my daughter will grow in a better world where she is loved and respected. I want women to live fearlessly and live free all over the world.

“Bekhauf aazaad hai jeena Mujhe

Bekhauf aazaad hai rehna Mujhe”

Well, it’s true that “Words are Powerful”. Etaf Rum has successfully stirred my soul with this honest book and I would definitely recommend everyone to read it.

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