Review | Dopehri by Pankaj Kapur

#QOTD – What is your haathor kala / haath ki kala / an art of your hand?

When I was younger, my mother would always tell me to learn something creative like drawing or stitching or crochet, basically have an art of my hand. And I would never have interest in any of those things. Now, as a grown up, I learnt drawing and illustration skills for making some branding content, and earned some extra money by making and selling hand made, customized greeting cards.

Why am I telling you this? Because, the acclaimed Indian theatre and Bollywood actor, Pankaj Kapur has weaved this beautiful novella, Dopehri, about an old widow who empowers herself with the art of her hand.

Amma Bi lives a solitary life in her Lucknow haveli. The narrative beautifully captures the little nuances of life in Lucknow. Her son has moved to the States, and her husband is now living in just a portrait and in her mind. Her loneliness terrifies her so much so that she hears footsteps in the courtyard every afternoon, so she is advised to keep a tenant in the haveli, and thus comes Sahiba; moving into the haveli and moving into Amma Bi’s heart.

This book is such a warm and soulful read, empowering in its own charming way. It imparts a lesson that it is never too late to make an identity for oneself. In my last review, Lihaaf, I talked about how the society wants a woman to depend on a man to be settled in life, and this book brings out just that.


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