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Updated: October 23, 2013 17:37 IST

A strong voice

UTHRA NAGARAJAN
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Voices in the Valley by Suravi Sharma Kumar
Voices in the Valley by Suravi Sharma Kumar

‘Voices in the Valley’ portrays the travails of a woman from Assam and captures the soul of this violence wrecked north-eastern state with a poetic touch...

The first thing that struck me about Voices In The Valley was the amount of research that went into the writing and the beautiful description of a landscape ravaged by violence.

Narrated from the viewpoint of Millie, the oldest of five daughters from an orthodox family from Tezpur, Assam, the author traces the journey of her life.

She takes us through a whirlwind journey into the inside world of Millie, into the mindset of a lower middle class family who struggle to marry their daughters off, to the many customs and traditions believed and followed by the people, and the ethnic and cultural clashes in this majestic and divine land.

Living for others

Millie has a complicated horoscope leading to many marriage proposals being rejected. Taking it in her stride, she concentrates more on the political turmoil her state is in, and goes about helping people from the fate that befell them. Her college life is highlighted by the many agitations and protests that she is part of to keep her motherland at peace.

She understands the socio-political issues gripping the society. Never wavering from her values and principles, she takes the political route to bring about a change.

Millie’s childhood and adolescence, her struggle to break free from orthodox values and the alluring pull of modernism have been dealt with much subtlety.

Not just Millie’s story, but of those around her, who play a part in moulding her into a strong, independent and versatile woman have been dealt with the sensitivity and finesse that it deserves.

Every character in the book has a story to tell, each story interconnected to Millie’s. They are well-etched and you get to know the characters better as the story progresses.

However, the numerous characters in the story hinder the narration. It becomes difficult to focus interest on the protagonist while keeping track of other characters’ stories. Though the book is a bit of a stretch and the language is poetic, the storytelling is excellent and the author has done justice to the irrefutable question of violence in the politically tumultuous and unstable state of Assam.

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