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As Fathers Go

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Length: 256 pages4 hours

Summary

This is a memoir of the life of a little girl growing up in a small town in Kerala, India, in the Second World War years. The author was that little girl, Anandam. She was an only child, her mother having died when Anandam was two-and-a-half years old. India was fighting for Independence from British rule and Anandam's father, Raghavan, was one of the leading activists in their town, Thalassery.
A father-daughter story as well as a memoir set in Thalassery, Kerala, this is an inspiring and fascinating account of growing up surrounded by all the tensions and traditions of rural Indian society, living through the dramatic changes in politics and lifestyle leading up to Indian independence, experiencing a Catholic secondary education, and finding ways to cope with a loveless arranged marriage, which then ironically sets her free by becoming a launching pad into the wider world.
When his child-bride died at the age of only eighteen, Anandam’s lawyer father went against local cultural mores by taking on the task of bringing her up largely by himself, teaching her English, keeping at bay the superstitious extended family, raising her awareness of cultural ethnic and religious diversity, and creating in her a thirst for knowledge and a passion for reading widely. In the run-up to independence he is imprisoned for several years on trumped-up charges by the colonial authorities in a distant town and the only communication between father and daughter is via heavily censored letters. And the little drawings she sends him knowing they were less likely to be blocked off with Indian ink.
This is a gripping account of that very special time and that unique father-daughter relationship.

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