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"Between Noor’s thirteenth and fourteenth birthday, you grow up in many ways and outgrow many assumptions you may have nursed about people and their life." Mridula Koshy's Bicycle Dreaming brings you a new world.
“Between Noor’s thirteenth and fourteenth birthday, you grow up in many ways and outgrow many assumptions you may have nursed about people and their life.” Mridula Koshy’s Bicycle Dreaming brings you a new world.
He said the bag wasn’t empty. There were books in the bag they were dragging. Books could survive malba, but not ashes.
Would he sell the books for pulp?
The boy looked up, and even in the waning light, his anger was clear to see.
I can read, he said.
Mridula Koshy makes you sit on a bicycle and pedals away into the life of what we call the underprivileged. As you ride along the stench of the naalas, cans of water being filled up from the community tap, one room shacks with just a curtain hanging to separate the outside world, the images seem familiar. As if you always knew of the existence of this ‘other’ world and it was now simply rising out of the subconscious in front of your eyes. You find yourself on the other side of the high rise from where the ashes that smear the life of Noor and many like her are not visible. From where the voice of the kabadiwala could never reach you and therefore his vanishing away from the streets went unnoticed.
Between Noor’s thirteenth and fourteenth birthday, you grow up in many ways and outgrow many assumptions you may have nursed about people and their life. The best part is Mridula does it without any trace of sympathy or judgment. The road turns, smoothly and gently sans any drama. In the end what remains is a story so relatable that it could rather be a story of you and me, may be in a different setting.
Noor’s clings with fierce loyalty to her father and his profession as kabadiwala. To the extent, she wants to ride her bicycle into the streets calling ‘Kabadi le lo’ and becoming the first kabadiwali. She is okay with mother preparing sooji ka halwa on her birthday inspite of knowing she loves aloo with poori. As long as that keeps her brother and family together, she is happy. When Haseena finds joy in giving up her school to ensure her brother walks to the school, Noor mourns the loss of a dear friend rather see it as a sacrifice. The afternoon sun embalms the tender love growing between Noor and Ajith. Life moves on and so does Noor, without her knowing how much she is changing and how much inside her remains unchanged.
As Noor pedals away towards her dream, she soon finds her green bicycle rampaging into her desire for the togetherness of the family. She questions and wonders about the power of imagination taught to her in school by one of the teachers.
“Could one imagine a green bicycle, one that had never existed, into existence, but then not be able to imagine a family that had once existed back into existence?”
To see Noor ask her mother not to throw away the old green anarkali gifted to her on the thirteenth birthday and at the same time wanting something western for her fourteenth birthday brings you to crossroads of your own life. Where you want to save memories in the trunk but you also want to fly away with your dreams. Without a care in the world. Without the afternoon sun bothering you. Without knowing how to stop. Just going bicycle dreaming.
First published at author’s blog
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Manmeet is a writer by passion and a facilitator by choice. She works primarily in the area of life skills, sexuality, and creative writing.
She founded Sailing Leaf in January 2016. Today myriad of experiential read more...
Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views, individual posts do not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions at all times.
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When Netflix announced that Indian Matchmaking (2020-present) would be renewed for a second season, many of us hoped for the makers of the show to take all the criticism they faced seriously. That is definitely not the case because the show still continues to celebrate regressive patriarchal values.
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Darlings makes some excellent points about domestic violence . For such a movie to not follow through with a resolution that won't be problematic, is disappointing.
I watched Darlings last weekend, staying on top of its release on Netflix. It was a long-awaited respite from the recent flicks. I wanted badly to jump into its praise and will praise it, for something has to be said for the powerhouse performances it is packed with. But I will not be able to in a way that I really had wanted to.
I wanted to say that this is a must-watch on domestic violence that I stand behind and a needed and nuanced social portrayal. But unfortunately, I can’t. For I found Darlings to be deeply problematic when it comes to the portrayal of domestic violence and how that should be dealt with.
Before we rush to the ‘you must be having a problem because a man was hit’ or ‘much worse happens to women’ conclusions, that is not what my issue is. I have seen the praises and criticisms, and the criticisms of criticisms. I know, from having had close associations with non-profits and activists who fight domestic violence not just in India but globally, that much worse happens to women. I have written a book with case studies and statistics on that. Neither do I have any moral qualms around violence getting tackled with violence (that will be another post some day).