Kamaljit Kaur 2022
This review was written for and originally published on Reedsy Discovery.
Kamaljit was born in the UK, the youngest daughter of Sikh parents who emigrated from the Punjab region in India before she was born. Sickly as a child and frequently hospitalized, she was treated with kindness by her parents, which brought down the wrath of her sisters who competed for their parents’ love and attention.
The oldest sisters were born in India, and even after the move to Leeds they held strong to Indian ways. One sister took holy orders as a Sikh religious, yet her parents forced her into marriage. Kamaljit and her next oldest sister Surinder (names have been changed in the book), born in the UK and compelled to conform to the same social traditions as their sisters, eventually left home.
Although Surinder had left the family long before her mother died, the catalyst for Kamaljit’s break with her father was the advent of the stepmother, Nagini, and the antipathy between the interloper and the young girl. Nagini is a mystery. No one knows where she came from or why Kamaljit’s father’s sisters forced her on the family. There is a reference to magic at one point.
Regardless, the catalyst works for Kamaljit’s ultimate good, as her new, independent life is one of study, self-reflection, education, and travel to India and Tibet. Motivated by her innate desire for knowledge and understanding, Kamaljit is coming to terms with life in the Kalyug (humanity’s final stage of devolution, in the Hindu tradition, characterized by unending strife).
Kamaljit Kaur’s writing is intense and many-layered. Informed by her studies in literature (from Shakespeare to mystic poets to fairy tales), psychology, art, history, and world religions, her memoir is best savored slowly; don’t skim or you’ll miss the references to levels of consciousness, Eastern philosophies and religion, the archetype of the evil stepmother, and so much more. I look forward to reading more of her work. Readers, take note; there is a in the back of the book as well as a bibliography.
Thank you to the author and Reedsy Discovery who provided me with an ARC. I used it to write this honest review.