Title: FACTS OF LIFE
Subtitle: REFLECTIONS ON IGNORANCE AND INTELLIGENCE
Author: REHANA SHAMSI
Type of Book: SOFTCOVER
Genre: NON-FICTION, POETRY
Length: 190 PAGES
Publisher: SELF-PUBLISHED BY REHANA SHAMSI
Release Date: JUNE 6, 2016
Price: $22.99 CDN
Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟
I was contacted by the author’s son who asked if I would be willing to read his mother’s book of poetry and post a review of it on my blog.
With his request, he gave me a brief description of the book and the poems as well as a bit of his mother’s history.
Rehana Shamsi was born in India, but her family moved to Pakistan in 1947. The society she was born into is one where male dominance and male supremacy are a fact of life. Women have no rights. They start out life as a possession of their fathers and this “ownership” only ends when the woman is married.
However, even though their fathers no longer own them, this does not mean that they achieve freedom. No, the only difference is in who owns them – they become property of their new husband.
For those of us who grew up in Canada, this is difficult to fathom. I grew up with a family who prized education for all children – not just males.
In Rehana’s society, girls were not sent to school. “Gender disparity was the rule of society. Before marriage women were under the strict control of their fathers or elder brothers and after an arranged marriage, husbands were their absolute masters. Women were not allowed to make any decisions or leave home without their husbands’ permission.”
Luckily for her, Rehana’s family did not believe in gender inequality and Rehana was the first girl in her family to attend school. She was even afforded the same freedoms as her brothers. However, all around her she saw gender discrimination and was powerless to do anything about it. She saw young women forced into unwelcome and unwanted marriages with men often double or triple the bride’s age.
In her introduction, Rehana states “These poems focus on my relationship with my former society. I voice the nearly ineffable emotional trauma that South Asian women suffer under male sovereignty – the ignominy of extreme oppression.”
So, why did Rehana write and publish this book of poetry? She answers that question in her introduction.
“I have tried to bring these issues to the forefront and have juxtaposed some poems to make it clear that to unshackle ourselves from unfair restraints, women have to try audaciously to achieve their rightful place in society. In my writing, I want women to realize that suppression is not our destiny if we learn to stand up for ourselves.”
I sincerely hope that Rehana’s poetry reaches far and wide and that upon reading it, women (especially those currently living under the thumb of a man) recognize that they are NOT powerless and that they are not alone.
I may be a white Canadian woman of Irish descent who grew up in a middle-class household, but I care. I care about women’s rights in India, in Pakistan and elsewhere in the middle-east.
I say to those women – Look at Rehana. Read her poems. See that she understands your despair. Now, take courage from her words and do whatever you can to escape your current situation. You are not cattle. You are not a possession. You are a person worthy of happiness. You just need to reach out and grab it.
The poetry in this book is thought-provoking and full of emotion. Through her words you can feel Rehana’s passion for justice.
I rate FACTS OF LIFE: REFLECTIONS ON IGNORANCE AND INTELLIGENCE as 4 out of 5 Stars.
* Even though I already stated this fact above, by law I must mention that I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. The fact that I received this book for free has no influence on the rating I chose to give it. My rating is 100% my honest opinion.
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Rehana Shamsi was born in India and grew up in Pakistan. She graduated from University of Karachi, majoring in Political Science, and Urdu Literature. She immigrated to the United States in 1995 and after studying nursing in New York, worked at Staten Island University Hospital as a clinical associate. While in New York, she studied English Literature at College of Staten Island, The City University of New York. She currently lives in Toronto, Canada.
To learn more about the author visit her on FACEBOOK