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Shakti: Stories of Indian Women by Alleyn…
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Shakti: Stories of Indian Women

by Alleyn Diesel

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The experience begins with the cover—-red, like the saris women wear for the firewalk; like the dresses Hindu women wear to get married, like the color of Mother Kali, like the color of menstrual blood. The cover looks like a beautiful wrap of Indian textile—perhaps a scarf, embroidered on the edges with blue and beige flowers. The Preface and Introduction are clearly written, concise, factual, and very helpful—certainly for South Africans, many of whom don't know much about South African Indian women's history—but also for people in other countries who know little about South African history and how Indian people became part of that story. The book is a swirl of stories and photographs of the women who tell those stories: old women, young women, women devoted to loving husbands, women abused by drunken husbands, women with children, women who are child-free, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, agnostic Indian women negotiating their South African lives through the mine-fields of cultural expectations, their own wild dreams, apartheid, racism, and violence. Yes, I know the editor. And yes, I know several of the women in the book. So maybe I'm biased. But I think it's a great treasure.
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