Avni Doshi’s debut novel ‘Girl in white cotton’ rechristened Burnt Sugar. This is a saga of a young girl and her relationship with her ‘not so perfect’ mother. In a culture that reveres mothers placing them on pedestals as the ‘Goddess’ and expecting her to be spotlessly white as cotton, Antara ‘s mother Tara is nothing ‘white’- even though she prefers to wear white and therefore the name of the book.
The ‘white’ being the metaphor for cleanliness, and all things pure, this woman is no white canvas, and has all colors spluttered over her. Walking a path that mothers are forbidden to take as society wills, Tara’s life is a tug of war between her two inner beings- the mother she must be and the woman she is.
The story is narrated in Antara’s voice and hence the canvas is analysed from Antara’s perspective. As we all know that every perspective is a picture of one’s mind via his/her lens and the tumultuous view of Tara’s life mutates to another perspective in the mind of the narrator- whose mind is it that shifts the perspective ? The narrator’s or that of the protagonist?
You will have to read the book to know.
The book is captivating in its telling with its smells, colours, anguish, spirituality and the garb of it. Innocence and the hypocrisy of growing up, all rolled into the story of a mother and a daughter. To know one, we must look into the heart of another.
No wonder, it is shortlisted for the booker prize.