Daughters : A Story Of Five Generations
By Bharati Ray
“Daughters: A Story Of Five Generations” by Bharati Ray is one splendid read that peeps into five generations (spanning late nineteenth century to the twenty-first century) and reveals the characteristics of the women of each era, which in turn reflects on the way the Indian society was and how it is today.
It begins with Sundar-ma, the author’s great-grandmother. A woman of the nineteenth century, she was married at the age of twelve into a conservative household. She was intelligent, self educated and a brave participant of India’s freedom struggle.
Ushabala, the author’s grandmother, was the proud wife of a college lecturer and a consummate home-maker. She wanted to give her daughter (Kalyani) what she, as an individual, could not achieve – a good education.
Kalyani, the author’s mother was feisty and irrepressible. A keen traveler, she was the first woman in the family to get a college degree, but gave up her studies and a career to raise her children. And Kalyani’s academic success paved the path for the author’s achievements.
Bharati Ray was a lecturer in Calcutta University and became its first woman pro-vice-chancellor. She was also a Member of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha.
And finally we get to know Bharati Ray’s daughters, Khuku and Tista, both extremely strong and bright individuals, leading a busy, fulfilling life.
The author narrates the life and time of her great grandmother (during India’s freedom struggle) and charts the journey to her daughters (the twenty-first century independent women).
She reflects and evaluates the thoughts of society; the history; and the upward progress the nation (and of course the society) has made since Independence.
Each generation progressed towards betterment and education. And how!
The individual choices the women made; their connection with their mother and daughters; and the societal growth at large reflects beautifully in this book.
It covers all aspects of the Indian society and reflects on the way the lives of women have changed over past couple of centuries. What was denied earlier is now a compulsion. What was hated earlier is now cherished. The progress our society has made and how it has molded each generation is beautifully described by the author.
This chronicle of the lives of five generations of women in the author’s family makes for a fantastic read. Pick it up and you won’t regret a single minute spent with the book.