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Shelling Peanuts and Stringing Words by Kashiana Singh (A Review)

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About the Book:

Description: Conceived by Kashiana Singh and Japneet Kaur. These two Sikh women forged an instant connection with each other persistence and voracious laughter. This book is their gift to themselves, a mosaic of words and line strokes to create cohesive conversations. To all women, this is a reminder to seek friendship and stay exquisite.

Cover and Title: With a very neat and clean cover design, Shelling Peanuts and Stringing Words is surely an interesting book to read. The name itself is quite compelling and the analogy drawn between two very unlikely things ‘shelling peanuts’ and ‘stringing words’ brings out in a humorous manner the precarious position of the woman in our society. In a typical Indian household, a woman’s position is secured at its best in the kitchen and nourishing her family. Even if she does other kinds of professional job, it is an addition to her regular household responsibilities. So, the irony is immediately felt by the readers even before we start reading the book. As women, we shell peanuts and not bullets. Our womb is created to provide nourishment and sustain life, and our story can only be told in words and not blood. Our small dreams are built surrounding that, “We chase conversations/ Crunching the bags of eager peanuts/ You dust promises/ Into spaces between cracked shells/ Together we jostle dreams,”

 

Editor’s Review: To begin with, the book starts with a gripping foreword written by Farhan Akhtar, something that comes as a great up for the book. This is followed by a beautiful passage written by the author’s father, Mr. C Pal Singh, giving a good insight to the book as to how the book came to form, the purpose of Kashiana’s poetry.

Complimented with the beautiful illustrations by Janpeet Kaur, the book is divided into 8 parts with all the poems dedicated to the different aspect of the poet’s life, her journey, her longings, her suffering, her dreams, and nightmare etc. As we read the poems, at times a reader might experience hardcore feminism in between the lines, especially in the poems that depict the gross crimes committed against women and how vulnerable and exposed we stay in the hands of the society. The poet has drawn a direct analogy taking very recent examples from our society. She becomes the many silent voices who can never rise again to tell their tales, and so we see Nirbhaya as one of them, the many daughters who never see the light of the day because she is a woman. It’s a woman’s bleeding that sustains life on earth but then it becomes a sin for the world. The beauty of a woman is in her ability to give birth – this feeling is beautifully and graphically depicted in the poem, “I bleed in birth – a womb”.

Written in a free verse style, the writing style is very straight and direct. A lot of metaphors are used to draw the abstract imageries. Otherwise, there is very little space for any other kind of literary decorum or devices in the verses and the poems are written in a very natural manner. Like the illustrations, the imageries drawn are vivid and it feels like the poet is shelling the world with her words and questions, and herein lies the irony of the title. The same irony continues in each section of the book as she shells down the readers with her questions – “How can someone promise forever ever?”

It is a Universal story of every woman. On one end, she is shown the dream of ‘happily ever after’ and on the other end lies the crude reality of life that she deals with on regular basis. Then why such fake promises when nothing like ‘happily ever after’ ever exist. So, in a way, Kashiana’s poems is a deconstruction of the Cinderella romance that we are deluded to live with.

A brief overview of the different segments of the poems –

The first part, Remembered Routines is a retrospection of the author in her journey as a woman.

Rather forceful imageries and verses are used to depict the plight of women in the section, “Pedagogy of Permissions” and that she need not be ashamed for the men who has forcedly penetrated into her world. She is not an object of mortification for the wrong committed against her and so should rise and fight for her rights.

In Embroidery of questions, the poet put forth questions about the illusions we grow up with. Why the fake promises of forever romantic rendezvous when in reality we are encapsulated within the false decorum of the society. As women, we only try to fit into the adjusted roles designed for us forever.

Staying Adrift expresses the moaning of a woman when in heartache, how vulnerable and melancholic the pain of separation makes her.

An Abridged World sketches the false morality and prejudices of the society and our history.

Paying Attention explores the sensuality of a woman in varied emotions.

People Endeavors is dedicated to people around her and in history and the lasting impression it left in her mind.

Counting Things shares the emotional connect of the poet that she has with the things and places around her. They are not just mere objects to her but memories that will always stay alive in her heart and thus lives within her.

 

Rating: 5/5

 

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About Anwesha Ghosh (31 Articles)
Anwesha Ghosh is the author of the book, 'Seasons - Songs of Life (a collection of short stories and poems).' She is the founder of SmartReads and an author, editor, book critic, and an entrepreneur. She is a prolific writer, reader, traveler and is also the Chief Editor of a travel web magazine, Dream Wanderlust . She has been a part many anthologies and her writings have received much critical appreciation for the simplicity of its style, ingenuity, and wit.