Book Review of Panchi by Rida Rizqin Hussain
Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we’ll ever do.
How really true stands this line, depicting the real essence of a person’s true journey of self-actualization. Indeed, loving and accepting our own selves, acknowledging ourselves with all our gifts and flaws is one of the biggest transformational life learning and process we have all to go through at some point of time in life.
My recent read titled Panchi by Rida Rizqin Hussain is such a story. A closer to life, endearing contemporary fiction portraying the story of Panchi, the protagonist, who becomes an unwilling victim of chastisement owing to a health condition, namely Hirsutism. The story revolves around her life showing how the incidence and occurrence of such a disease can have a life-changing impact on the person who develops it. She suffers both the physical as well as the mental ordeal associated with it and subsequently is always chastised, treated akin to an untouchable, looked down upon etc.
Gradually, she begins to lose confidence and also becomes depressed. The story further highlights how she chooses to break free of this stigma arising out of the societal taboo created and manages to win and get back to life against all odds.
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The characters supporting her namely her brother Andy, her mom Anjali, her Neelu Maasi, her bestie Monica, her love interest Manyu have been sketched well to fall in tandem to portray and minutely show not only her emotional journey but also give us a lifelike slice of what happens when such a situation is actually faced by someone in reality. Although, I felt the adolescent love and the infatuation angles portrayed were not very in line with the main plot as they had the potential of giving a cliched kind of twist to the story, still am sure Rida must have had some valid reason to put them in the story.
I especially felt that the character of her brother Andy was one of her biggest pillars of support in life as well as her best friend Monica. Somewhere, though if truth be told, Rida lost the thread of the story a bit as I somehow felt the story to be a bit bumpy at places.
Also, I felt the editing of the narrative could have been a bit crisper.
Albeit, the premise is powerful and addresses a very important issue that women in our society continue to face in spite of the generation having “Moved on” to the so-called 21st century.
Even in today’s modern era, body shaming, fat shaming, continue to hold strong ground with people forgetting how these matters need to be resolved sensitively and sensibly.
Instead, the person in question is simply chastised and continues to suffer a horrible emotional predicament reducing him/her to a wreck. Indeed, this is a sad reality that surely needs to be wiped out from the general mental attitude of society as a whole.
Judging a person on the basis of their physical attributes is not only detrimental towards that person but at the same time, unfair since beauty does not limit to looks alone. It comprises many other facets and it is high time we started looking at each other holistically, beyond the barriers of good looks and physical attributes.
Rida’s writing is simple yet her narrative is lucid.
Like I had pointed out better editing and bridging would have improved upon the book even more.
Nevertheless, a good first attempt and am sure she will write even better for her next one. For now, this is a good book addressing a powerful societal stigma.
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