When I started this book, I was still hungover from the one I was reading before, so it took me some time to actually adapt myself to Tara’s world. I actually read the first 2 chapters twice to be able to absorb the context. I found this whole idea of a family in the US, which is so blinded by their faith and is so anti-government, kind of unreal. So it was an eye-opener for me that these problems do exist and to this level even in the US. That somebody has to struggle so much to get an education there, not because of finances but her family, who is pulling her back all the time.
I remember how my mother used to tell me, that you are lucky to receive an education but you do not realize the value of it, and honestly, while reading this book I could feel every word my mom said to come to life.
As a parent, it gave me shivers thinking about how my beliefs and actions can alter the way my child thinks about himself. How deep-rooted conditioning is and it takes a lifetime to come out of it if it goes wrong. How important it is to find your own voice and let it lead you rather than just being a mere follower of what has been preached all along. It took me a while to read this one, not because the book was slow or uninteresting but because it gave me so much to think about.
It’s a brutally honest account of how your life is shaped up basis what you keep hearing about yourself. How you can undermine or overestimate yourself, not because you realize your own worth, but because that’s what people talk about you or preach you. How you constantly seek validation from your loved ones because you always feel that you are the one who is at fault, you stop trusting your own self. How it can affect your relationships, your performance at work – mere judgment of others, and a life at stake!
I would like to quote a para from the book which touched me like really hard:
“I could tolerate any form of cruelty better than kindness. Praise was a poison to me, I choked in it. I wanted the professor to shout at me, wanted it so deeply I felt dizzy from the deprivation. The ugliness of me had to be given expression. If it was not expressed in his voice, I would need to express it in mine”
She has been able to recreate her whole life. She makes you feel every moment, the happy ones (rare but yeah they are there) and especially the disturbing ones. I actually felt like reaching out to her and give her my hand at times, while towards the end I was in awe of her.
Through her journey, Tara comes across as an inspiration, but it’s not that she is all-heroic. The beauty of this book is how real it gets, her struggles, her self doubt, her weakness, how she tries to hide her background, how she feels like an imposter even though she is a part of a world-renowned institution, her efforts to imitate others, her failures, her nightmares are all a part of her journey like us, but what makes her inspiring is how she fights them back and finds herself in this process.
The most beautiful part of this book for me is what education can do to you, how it can liberate you. It also raises so many questions about what really is worth learning, is it all books or is it the knowledge you actually put to use and how you learn because you have the hunger to know more, to dig out all the why’s and a thirst to really understand, to make sense of things. Is it to follow blindly what is passed on to you, or is it questioning and finding your own answers? Is it about listening to other’s voices or finding your own voice amongst the chaos around?
In the end, I can’t help but quote the last lines of the book, which left me thinking for good:
“That night I called on her and she didn’t answer. She left me. She stayed in the mirror. The decisions I made after that moment were not the ones she would have made. They were the choices of a changed person, a new self.
You could call this selfhood many things. Transformation. Metamorphosis. Falsity. Betrayal.
I call it an education.”
I seriously felt like clapping after reading these lines. This book is a masterpiece and it needs to be read by as many people.