It's a devastating and heartbreaking story for sure, told innocently from a 13 years old girl point of view. I really wish it's a pure fiction.
Quotes from the book:
Pg. 10 Calendar
On the mountain we mark time by women's work and women's woes.
In the cold months, the women climb high up the mountain's spine to scavenge for firewood. They take food from their bowls, feed it to their children, and silence their own churning stomachs.
This is the season when the woman bury the children who die of fever.
In the dry months, the women collect basketfuls of dung and pat them into cakes to harden in the sun, making precious fuel for the dinner fire. They ties rags around their children's eyes to shield them from the dust blowing up from the empty riverbed.
This is the season when they bury the children who die from the coughing disease.
In the rainy months, they patch the crumbling mud walls of their huts and keep the fire going so that yesterday's gruel can be streched to make tomorrow's dinner. They watch the river turn into a thundering beast. They pick leeches from their children's feet and give them tea to ward off the loose-bowel disease.
This is the season when they bury the children who cannot be carried to the doctor on the other side of that river.
In the cool months, they prepare special food for the festivals. They make rice beer for the men and listen them argue politics. They teach the children who hae survived the seasons to make back-to-school ink from the blue-black juice of the marking nut tree.
This is also the season when the women drink the blue-black juice of the marking nut tree to do away with babies in their wombs-the ones who would be born only to be buried next season.
Pg.60 What I Carry
Inside the bundle Ama packed for me are:
the noteook my teacher gave me for being the number one girl in school,
and my bedroll.
Inside my head I carry:
my baby goat,
my baby brother,
my ama's face,
our family's future.
My bundle is light.
My burden is heavy.
Pg.126 Between Twilights
Sometimes, between the twilights,
I unwrap my bundle from home
and bury my face in the fabric of my old skirt.
I inhale deeply,
drinking in the scent of mountain sunshine,
a warmth that smells of freshly turned soil and clean laundry
baking in the sun.
I breath in a cool Himalayan breeze,
and the woodsy tang of a cooking fire,
a smeel that crackles with the promise of warm tea
and fresh roti.
Then I can get by.
Until the next twilight.
In the village school we were taught to add, substract, multiply, and divide.
The teacher gave us difficult problems, asking us to figure out how many baskets of ricea family would have to sell to buy a new water buffalo. Or how may lengths of fabric a mother would need to make a vest and pants for her husband and still have enought for a dress for her baby. I would chew on the ends of my braids while my mind whirred, desperate to come up with the answer that would spread a smile on her soft moon face.
Here I do a different set of calculations.
If I bring a half dozen men to my room each night, and each man pays Mumtaz 30 rupees, I am 180 rupess closer each day to going back home. If I work for a hundred days more, I should have nearly enough to pay back the 20,000 rupees I owe to Mumtaz.
Then Shahanna teaches me city substraction.
Half of what the men pasy goes to Mumtaz, she says. Then you must take away 80 rupees for what Mumtaz charges for your daily rice and dal. another 100 a week for renting you a bed and pillow. And 500 for the shot the dirty-hads doctor gives us once a monthso that we won't become pregnant.
She also warns me: Mumtaz will bury you alive if she sees your little book of figures.
I do the calculations.
and I realize I am already buried alive.
Pg. 178 Am I pretty?
In the days after the hugging man leaves, I consider myself in the mirror. My plain self, not the self wearing lipstick and eyeliner and a filmy dress.
Sometimes I see a girl who is growing into womanhood.
Other days I see a girl growing old before her time.
It doesn't matter, of course. Because no one will ever want me now.
Pg.182 A Gift
Today, Harish tels me, is the festival of brothers and sisters. He shows me the rag doll he is giving to Jeena. "I bought it with my own money," he says.
Then he hands me a pencil. It is shiny yellow and it smells of lead and rubber. And possibility.
"For you," he says.
And then he runs off, his papre kite in his hand. and I am glad because something strange is happening. Something surprising and unstoppable.
A tear is running down my cheek. It quivers a moment on the tip of my nose, then splashes onto my skirt, leaving a small, dark circle.
I have been beaten here,
violated a hundred times
and a hundred times more.
I have been starved
How odd it is that I am undone by the simple kindness of a small boy with a yellow pencil.
The subject matter of this book is not to be taken lightly. It is not a light hearted book. To be honest, there wasn't much to it. It was formatted as if it were a journal of experiences. I finished this book in about 2 hours total. It was interesting and sad, but nothing out of the ordinary. The book seems to have been given great reviews and all 15 reviews on Amazon.com were very positive. I think it was good, but perhaps a bit overrated....Continua