Review: Immortal for a Moment by Natasha Badhwar

In her new book, Natasha Badhwar seeks simple answers to complex questions about living honestly and with purpose
Joy in small things: A couple shares a meal in Mumbai.(NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Joy in small things: A couple shares a meal in Mumbai.(NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Updated on May 31, 2019 05:19 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | By Sudhirendar Sharma
233pp, Rs 350; Simon & Schuster
233pp, Rs 350; Simon & Schuster

Here’s a book that claims to be as much for the happily married as for those who aren’t, for those in love, for those who aren’t, and for those who have no children as well as for those who intend to have them at some point. Immortal for a Moment lets the reader realize that life’s template is a work in progress; each fleeting moment holds new reflections on what it could become.

Extending her search for deeper meaning within the daily rigmarole of life, in this book, Natasha Badhwar goes beyond the experience of parenting her three daughters, which she focused on in her debut. Deep diving into the obvious, she reflects on happenings that are often taken for granted. Personal and honest, these stories of everyday living reflect life truths with which readers can easily relate.

The author seems to suggest that things that can help an individual explore different shades of her life should not remain unsaid, and that life should be lived equitably and responsibly. Her prose is lucid, reflective and comforting to those who lack the courage to overcome entrenched notions and internalized beliefs. These are deceptions and only by overcoming them can an individual access the unexplored parts of herself. Badhwar’s honesty extends to the institution of marriage. She believes the simple realization that marriage can be lonesome will help steer it away from becoming a pile of resentments. The more you take it as a sport, the more you begin to play it to your capacity. Indifference and disagreements are essential aspects of any marriage, and it only begins to work when you give up on it. ‘Anyone’s life can be a situational comedy provided one is willing to explore joy in unexpected places,’ she writes. Immortal for a Moment is an invitation to preserve every fleeting moment because the more you hold on to them, the more meaningful life becomes. The task is to break the world of silences with words that explore strengths while deploring vulnerabilities.

Author Natasha Badhwar (Courtesy the publisher)
Author Natasha Badhwar (Courtesy the publisher)

A collection of columns written over several months, each of these 50 essays helps the reader reclaim parts of life, areas that he or she might be reluctant to include in life’s narrative. Badhwar’s words can help expand possibilities and create new frames of reference.

The author’s response to the self-righteous judgement of a woman who assumed she had three girls ‘because you wanted a boy’ is especially striking. How do you deal with those who have quick-stick labels for everyone? The best and perhaps the only way to silence the ignorant might be to speak louder than they do. The query ‘What was in them that she hated so much?’ had shut up the woman for good.

Immortal for a Moment points out that contrary to the image we present, our inner selves remain entangled in biases and prejudice. The façade is what hides the true self. Instead of addressing the intricate web of oppression and disparity, we perpetuate different forms of inequalities. Should we let our lives be betrayed or rebel against what we realize is absurd?

Read: Opinion | Five roundabout ways to make a marriage work  

Badhwar seeks simple answers to complicated questions. Her writing is raw and honest. Her small world opens windows of possibilities for unlearning and relearning to change the world around us.

This is not a self-help book but its words are soothing and comforting. After all, hanging on the monkey bars of material desire is not what life is all about.

Sudhirendar Sharma is an independent writer, researcher and academic. He lives in New Delhi.

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Friday, October 22, 2021