When I picked up Rebirth by Jahnavi Barua, frankly speaking I was quite skeptical as not many books on feminist topics interest me. The book is written in the form of a diary as monologue between Kaberi and her unborn child. It is the brilliant effectiveness of first person narrative that keeps the reader hooked to the book. At times, you even feel guilty of reading someone’s personal accounts but as the book progresses you develop a compassion for Kaberi.
Kaberi is a homemaker in Bangalore, pregnant with a longed-for baby about whom she tells no one. No one except her gynecologist knows about her pregnancy. Her marriage is in rocks as her husband Ranjit (Ron) is having an affair with another woman and he is considering divorce. She is in her second trimester and soon it would be difficult to conceal this secret. Kaberi is uncertain about her future, her marriage, the child and it is the story of how she grows from an innocent homemaker to a strong woman.
Ron is a convent educated belonging to elite class while Kaberi who belongs to a middle class family is married to her. Ron is a top level executive in a multinational company in Bangalore and Kaberi who is a very simple minded girl from a small town in Assam and has never been out of her home suddenly finds herself in a big city like Bangalore where things are changing quite fast. A myriad of complex emotions goes through her mind. The mind of a woman is very complex and not many have tried to define it, as even most woman fail to do it. Barua has done a mind-blowing job when she bares the soul of Kaberi.
Until Kaberi was deserted by her husband, she was very vulnerable and still the small town girl. When Ron deserted her, she decided to keep it a secret and she told everyone that he is in a tour. This is when her journey to womanhood started.
The story starts in the monologue with the unborn child but it is more like Kaberi consoling herself and coming to terms with reality. It is only when her child is no more a secret that Kaberi begins to regard the unborn baby as an entity to whom stories must be told, Kaberi tells about her friend Joya who was of the rebellious kind and married a boy who their parents did not not approve of. Joya also had taken part actively in the ‘Andolan’ and also inspired Kaberi to be part of it. Joya died while she was in a medical duty in a terrorist prone area. She also tells about her friend Preetha whom she met in met in Bangalore and how she appreciates her.
Barua describes the surroundings of Kaberi with each and every detail making the story very vivid. Kaberi is also seen drawing analogies of her new home with her original home.
The beauty of Rebirth is that it does not make the reader pity Kaberi at any time even when she is most vulnerable and the story delicately progresses taking the reader with tender care and carefully leaves the reader at the end, yearning for more. It also does not make infidelity an issue as Kaberi is although hurt is also forgiving. It also does not try to find answers to complex and unanswered questions in life.It simply leaves it like that and the reader is also content with that.
We welcome your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org