I finished reading Shradha Ghale’s The Wayward Daughter after a friend recommended the book to me. The book is super-relatable to the point that it is uncomfortable at parts. During a post-read discussion with my friend, he shared that he thought about my family and me when he read the book. Oh what a surprise. He even knew who Manlahari was in our family. How amusing. I laughed after hearing the names. I quickly typed back “then you’re Ganga” on Whatsapp.
In her first novel, Shradha writes our story so well. This is the story of families and people who left their gaun ghar to chase big dreams in the big city. They acquired land first and slowly added floors to their houses. With the focus on a Tamule and Limbu couple, I literally read this book and felt this was our story being written. I felt I was writing the book. Though I have never lived in Nepal for a long time, I too have done what Sumnima has by categorising the types of cousins that visit and stay with us from Taplejung. Those that arrive to study, those that stay till they get their visa for ‘bidesh’ and those that are there for medical check-up sheck-up.
The strength in this book lies in how well Shradha has written and developed the characters with respect. It’s a simple read and the characters are people who you will find in your own families and neighbourhood. Most importantly, for a reader who happens to be a Limbu, a son of a Gurkha and all too familiar with the two worlds of gaun-ghar and Kathmandu clashing – this book is our story that many of us are living right now.