A Journey out of India is a touching memoir, which describes the author’s life experiencing the joys and vicissitudes of growing up in a world of affluence followed by a period of privation.
The book touches upon many issues relevant in today’s world: childhood, family, identity, sexual awakening, women, culture, and religious differences. Using events, memories, and pain and discovery as multiple colours on her layered palette, the author creates a sensual, impressionistic account of her life as a young woman.
The wistfully nostalgic flavour is captured through the eyes of the child raised by a Dalit servant, Lakshmi, who inspires her to pursue her dreams. The surrounding cast of characters includes an imperious grandmother, a resolute mother, a gentle and ineffectual father, and a wealthy and exotic aunt.
The central figure is moulded by a smorgasbord of experiences through sexual awakening at the hands of a paternal uncle, disease and death in one of the busiest hospitals in India while studying to become a doctor, and the customary but disastrous traditionally arranged marriage. When her life’s dream of immigrating to the United States is finally realised, she finds that this is a Pyrrhic victory – in the process she has lost her father.
The author’s story is an elaborate choreography of life weaving a rich tapestry, culminating in the final product – a complex woman who has learned humour and compassion, tolerance and fortitude, empathy and wisdom through suffering, sorrow and mostly laughter.