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Jayati Godhawat

IWB Blogger

Gurmehar Kaur Reveals A Small Act Of Freedom That Liberated Her After The DU Clash

  • IWB Post
  •  January 27, 2018


The last session of Day 3 of Jaipur Literature Festival that I attended was that of Gurmehar Kaur’s book launch: Small Acts of Freedom and indeed it was one of the most powerful ones.

After having talked about young India and its thoughts on Nationalism at length in Day Two’s session of Dreamers: Looking at Young India with many other talented young writers, Gurmehar already requested the moderator not to ask her any question on Nationalism.

Nuf said!

Opening the session by describing one of her small acts of freedom, Kaur said, “Last February, just after the Ramjas issue, I was being ruthlessly followed by the media, and it seemed like every person in India at the time had an opinion about me. I felt like I had become a political topic and had lost myself in those debates and opinions. I went to my Mausi’s house as it was the only place the media couldn’t reach me and I remember how scared I was. However, to feel free and to reclaim myself, one day I just went out and got my hair colored in blue. So, it was a small act of freedom for me.”

On being asked about her book, Gurmehar said, “I know a lot of people expected me to write about the entire Ramjas episode and Nationalism and thought that my book will talk about it. But, it doesn’t. My story is not about those three days. I always say this, and I’ll say it now, too, that I am a product of work of three generations.”

“And, can I be just selfish and say, that I wrote this book so that my father can be immortalized?” she admitted and the entire crowd cheered for her.jlf 2018

Gurmehar also discussed how it is to be raised in a family of women and said, “My grandmother, my mother, and my mausi are the most courageous women I have known. If not for them, I wouldn’t be here. To be raised by a single mother and to have been grown in a family with women, it’s just liberating as you know you can be anything you want and that there’s no sort of competition or pressure that you are subjected to when the opposite gender is in the house.”

“You were just 19 when the entire debate happened and escalated. So, how do you find so much of courage and resilience at such a young age?” the moderater inquired to which Kaur replied with utmost honesty.

“It’s not that I wasn’t scared. When all of this was happening, I was scared to death, and I remember sitting on my bed, talking to my mom, and I was shivering. We didn’t know what to do and then there was media who was continuously probing me. And, I distanced myself from them as I saw that the few of them were portraying my story with a different perspective, their perspective! It was then that I wrote the blog post and decided that I’ll not let the news channels or newspapers tell my story. I’ll tell my own story!”

“And, another thing that I am completely sure of is that no matter what, I’ll always stand up for peace. Even if people call it anti-nationalism. Because what I went through as a child, I do not ever want another child to feel the same,” she added.

After Shashi Tharoor launched Gurmehar’s book and praised her for being the voice of young India and standing up for the freedom of speech, Gurmehar concluded the session on a lighter note and shared the memory of holding her debut book for the first time.

“When I got the news, I bunked my class and rushed to receive the copy. I just sat on the stairs there. I was silently staring at the book for forty minutes. I have always heard of how people cry when their first book is published, but with me, I didn’t cry, I just sat there, feeling every page of the book, hugging it, and constantly smiling. Finally, my story was all out there on paper!”

Photo Courtesy: Aparna Natha

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