The Color of Our Sky by Amita Trasi is a very sensitively written tale of a bond between two girls. All the women reading this story would want to go to their girlfriends or sisters and tell them how much they mean to them. Those, who miss a sister or a girlfriend would long to have one.
At the core of ‘The Color of Our Sky’ is the story of a girl born in the Devadasi tradition. She is born into prostitution. Probably every Devadasi who gives birth to a girl tries hard to keep her away from the profession. Most fail. How do they break the cycle? Can we outside their world ever understand what they go through? Do the men who visit them ever pity them? Do they ever fall in love with them? What do children who never know who their father is going through? While we know girls inherit the profession, what about boys, who they deal with it?
Amita Trasi tries to answer some of these questions through a very engaging story. The best part of her storytelling is the little that she reveals in every chapter. The story travels back in time, comes back to the present and travels ahead. You hear two voices alternatively – of the two protagonists in the story. Two girls, who spent a bit of their childhood together without knowing much about each other. All they know is the comfort that they received from each other. At some point, they are separated. Rest of the story is about their longing and search for each other.
In a very subtle way, Amita Trasi brings out the value of education in life. A bit of knowledge, ability to read and write and incidentally in India spoken English can take you far. It can make you stand apart or give you the courage to find answers by reading or asking around. It gives you the ability to understand the world around you or may sometimes give you the window to escape the sad state of your life. The protagonist here finds comfort in the fictional world of stories even during the darkest days of her life.
You get a gruesome account of the brothels in Mumbai and how the whole ecosystem works. How the NGOs raid the brothels with the help of police. How the brothels across cities as far as Mumbai and Kolkata network to keep the girls in the network, to ensure they do not escape. And how bonds sometimes develop between girls at brothels and their regular clients. How each girl somehow tries to escape before finally accepting brothel as her fate. It is heartbreaking to read how the hope takes birth in them when a client is kind to them and how it is shattered when they move on with their respected families.
The worst part of the story is the treatment of children in brothels. The way they are drugged and kept away at nights from their mothers is saddening. They are literally hidden in gutter holes during raids. They are sometimes drugged and left under the beds where their mothers service the clients.
Amita Trasi has very skillfully hidden all this in a tale of relationships and a search story. One of the protagonists is searching for her childhood friend who she thinks was lost because of her. However, on the way, secrets and facts keep tumbling out and she discovers so much about her family, family friends, her ancestors and of course her lost friend. Somewhere the story celebrates the friendship and the bonds we build in life. It makes you want to go back and nurture those bonds.
Language is simple and uncomplicated. You almost do not notice it, which is good because all your focus is on the story. The narration of the story is perfect, it gives you the story in small bites. The pace is steady throughout the 400 pages – it never gets too slow or too fast. In the end, what I like is that it ends on a happy or optimistic note. I do not like stories that leave me sad for days to come with a sense of helplessness. I like stories that leave me with hope even if it sounds unrealistic at times.
Read The Color of Our Sky.
You may buy this book – The Color of Our Sky: A Novel by Amita Trasi at Amazon.