Book Review: In Search of Heer – by Manjul Bajaj
I read. A lot. And process most of what I read intellectually.
Only few writers consistently manage to sneak past my ‘defences’ to impact me viscerally. One of them wrote the book I’ve just finished, “In Search of Heer“.
Having never heard the legend before, the story itself was quite engaging – with all the twists and turns that have made it a time-honored saga. But in Majul Bajaj‘s telling, it takes on a special and unique flavor. One you’ll enjoy and savor for a long time to come.
There’s so much to love and appreciate about ‘In Search of Heer’.
- Its writing, poetic and sublime in places, inspiring and rousing in others.
- Its themes of heart-wrenching romance and soul-stirring feminism.
- Its narrative style, which shifts in perspective – even crows, pigeons and a goat pitch in to tell parts of the tale.
Vivid word pictures bring ancient historic scenes vibrantly alive. And the lovely portrait she paints about a divine-yet-earthly romantic love between the two stars of the story will leave you gasping – and craving some more.
Raw emotion runs rampant throughout the tale. But through it all are subtly woven a few special threads of social consciousness.
It’s a book I will urge my daughter to read, because on one level it’s a guide book for strong women, rich with so many empowering messages. Heer is inspirational, although her battle against an unrelenting, intolerant society is a sobering undertone… one I see extant even today, which is worrisome.
- It’s a book about connectedness among all living beings. About the transcendence of our love for everyone and everything.
- It’s a book about tolerance. For our own foibles, as well as others’. For our environment and our circumstances.
- And it’s about the wondrous, joyous, mysterious magic of music, told through the haunting notes of our hero’s flute.
Some of my favorite passages were about this bounteous treasure we are all privy to, and yet don’t value highly enough.
“As I began to play, I was unable to speak of God at first. My flute, its heart full of hunger pangs, cold floors, the sorrow of leaving my childhood home and parting from kith and kin, wept tunes of its own destitution….
Finally, my flute began to extoll the glory of God. His power and His magnificence. His laws and His perfect justice. His mercy and His infinite kindness.
Soon the village began to empty of people and the maidan around the mosque began to fill up as farmers, tradesmen, carpenters, ironsmiths, potters and barbers, good wives, good mothers, wise grandmothers, and loved grandfathers all came out in search of the source of the music that called to the blood flowing through their arteries.
A growing whisper rustled through the still night air, fanning through it a soft breeze of gentle regard flowing toward me.”
“In Search of Heer” is a book you’ll enjoy on many different levels.
- As a quick, fast-paced read of a nice historical romance.
- As a literary delight, strewn with delicious nuggets you’ll linger over, and return to savor once again.
- As an inspiring roadmap that prepares our coming generations for a gender-equal, tolerant, environment-sensitive, globally connected reality.