17 April, 2021

Love’s Backyard, A Scorched Soul

Malika’s bruisingly honest memoir is dominated by her abusive marriage with the great Marathi poet Namdeo Dhasal

Malika Amar Sheikh with her husband, Dalit poet Namdeo Dhasal
Courtesy: Facebook
Love’s Backyard, A Scorched Soul

As I delved into this searing tale of a promising young life bligh­ted by an abysmal marriage, I couldn’t help but wish the book was titled differen­tly. ‘I Want to Live’ might have been a cry of hope. Malika Amar Sheikh was the daughter of Amar Sheikh, a legendary folk singer of revolutionary anthems.  He was a committed Communist Party of India worker and a great singer who could hold thousands in thrall. It was at this time that he met Kusum Jaykar, an educated woman with a graduate degree and also a party member. They overcame soc­ial opposition to their marriage on familiar, religious gro­u­­nds, and the party’s opposition to it on ideological grounds.

They ran away to get married. Malika was the second child, born eight years after her sister, Prerne, who would be a loving, supportive figure in her life for many years. As a tiny baby, Malika got pleurisy. She rec­eived dedicated care from her family and spent the hours reading. Thus pampered, Malika  withdrew into a dream world, building a cocoon around...

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