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Monday, November 17, 2014

Book Review : ‘Stolen Years : A Memoir of Simranjit Singh Mann's Imprisonment' by Pavit Kaur

Pavit Kaur’s ‘Stolen Years : A Memoir of Simranjit Singh Mann's Imprisonment’ is a nostalgic journey, probably through one of India’s saddest events. It was November 6th 2014, when I first started reading this memoir. It was Guru Nanak Jayanthi, and it was not the end of many coincidences, that I would have while reading this book.

It started with the prologue of a cold November night in 1989, when Simranjit Singh Mann was released from jail after five long years. He, who was in jail still managed to win an election for a parliamentary seat from Tarn Taran in Punjab.

Back to the main story, we have an interesting and wistful description of Pavit Kaur’s childhood years to begin with. Starting off with the Operation Blue Star, which shook her family apart, Kaur, describes how her father, Simranjit Singh Mann was at his parents’ house when the Golden Temple was stormed by the army on 6th June 1984 under then, PM Indira Gandhi's orders. She goes on to describe Indira Gandhi’s assassination and eventually, how her father was accused and arrested for the same.         

She also describes her school life and you are wondering what kind of a painful story would this horse riding and fun loving child have. She goes on to describe her great-grandparents and little into their history. So, we get a good glimpse into the British times, as well. She also goes into the Sikh history, which I thought was very useful for an amateur like me.

Leading into her teenage years, this particular memoir takes on a different twist, straight into her father’s jail stories.

The talent which, Mann had is best seen in his notes at the prison he was imprisoned in. His adventures with the jailers and prison officials are described with utmost ease and brilliance of the writer, he was.

Kaur manages to put in a few letters which, she had written him. These letters, along with those of her mother, brother and sister and a few others, as well. She with great detail, manages to go into Himalayan forest life, her adventures with family and friends and even card games. She basically captures the tender relationship of their father with his children, in these pages.

The story is filled with glimpses into her family life and that of whatever her father might have missed. She even uses old photographs and copies of various letters and articles in the book. It seems like a good break, if you are reading it in a single reading like I did.

The readers can decide what they feel of this narration. Personally, I liked it. 

Author: Pavit Kaur
Genre: Non-Fiction
Publisher: Random House India
ISBN: 978-81-8400-442-7
Price: Rs 399/-

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