October 22, 2009

Excerpts from the novel 'Seven steps in the sky'

The novel 'Seven steps in the sky' is the English translation of a Gujarati novel named 'Saat pagla aakashma' written by Kundanika Kapadia. It's one of my favourite novels. The novel revolves around the life of the protagonist of the novel Vasudha and a few of her friends and relatives. It talks about the stuff that a woman has to go through being a female in this male-dominated society. This novel has won the Sahitya Akademi award in 1985. It's a wonderful book which actually makes you think. Some things, habits, customs are so much a part of our daily life that we even forget that it's just a piece of injustice being done towards our beloved mother, sisters and wife. After reading it, I felt that I know and understand my mother, sisters, female friends and women in general a little better now.

Anyway, I'm not going to review this book any more (not at least) in this post. The followings are rather the excerpts from the novel. You may like to read them even if you're not a feminist since most of them are of general nature and not related to equality of rights for women or anything like that. (By the way, I still wonder why some people like to proclaim themselves 'anti-feminists'. Yes that's a term! Anyway, let's not digress more ;) )

One more thing: Though I haven't used quotation marks (except in a couple of cases), some of them are spoken by people while the others are just the author's and/or the protagonist's views. They are mainly (leaving a few exceptions) in the order in which they appear in the book. That's it. You can read them now:


The heart should be allowed to reveal itself without being questioned. When it begins to feel trust, it will open of its own accord.

I can't tell what somebody should do. All I can say is what I would do. If I was really sad, I would behave one way, if I wasn't, I'd behave differently. That's being honest - living according to one's own feelings.

... Inner honesty is a different thing. ...

... That all individuals have the right to live as they wish. Society should be organized in such a way that every woman can actualize her potential and enjoy life on an equal basis. No one should have to make sacrifices for others. One sister shouldn't have to forgo her happiness for the sake of another sister. Children shouldn't have to live up to the expectations for the peace of mind of their parents. ...

What kind of a man would you like?
Someone who would let me be whole. There is a song of Tagore which goes 'Come just as you are' ... 'Just as you are' isn't only a matter of kohl in the eyes or ruffled curls. It is about the wholeness of personality. ... I would like a man ... who would be a friend, not master, who would walk with me hand in hand.

You think I am a strong person, don't you? I say these things, but sometimes I feel weak. Some day, out of sheer exhaustion, I think I will say, all right then, just arrange the marriage. ...

It is a crime to ask serious questions. To think differently from the accepted beliefs of centuries, what has been done for generations, that's a crime.

'(Don't you have any) obligation to me as a friend (?)'

He wants me to cling to him day and night, doesn't want to give me any space. That's addiction, not love. ... To admire a woman's looks, or to praise her cooking is like saying, stay beautiful and keep cooking.

Between man and woman is a relationship possible which has all the lightness and freedom of the sky together with the firmness and permanence of the earth having the probability of limitless growth.

Because you are in love with someone, you are vulnerable, and give that person immense power to hurt you.

Everyone should be self-reliant for their basic needs.

Everyone should learn the basic skills they are going to need in life.

When there is trust, there are no conditions.

To say 'If you love me, you should do this or that', is like blackmail(ing).

As soon as you start doing something to show others, that's the beginning of hypocrisy.

(during a discussion about the need of having one's own kids, especially a son)
In the midst of millions of nebulae there is an eternally revolving cluster of stars. On its edge with a solar system with a planet populated by millions of people. Here in the great tide of time, lineages have been created and have perished. Even mighty dynasties have turned into dust. And a man wants to become immortal through his descendents - what vanity! In this universe, life continues in one form or another. What is the meaning of wanting a continuation of one's self?

(The sentences in the following paragraph are actually spoken by more than one person)
'We all need love' ... 'We need creativity' ... 'Together we can find a life in which we are not searching for elusive material things' ... 'We can create an environment where there is true love, which fulfils all the desires of the heart, which heals all the wounds - which does not become purposeless and mechanical, which always remains with us, and does not mind our mistakes, imperfections and faults.' ... 'Love puts a protective armour around us and gives us strength without making us dependent, makes our lives stable and yet full of newness ... '

... I believe that God, or perhaps nature, has created us for joy and love. We waste our lives in insignificant things like money and renown, and perhaps that is why we don't attain love; perhaps we shouldn't be looking for it in others, but should manifest it ourselves.

Even a love marriage may be a mistake. No one can guarantee that I will love this person all my life. Who can be so sure about one's self? Some adjustment is necessary in all relationships, but to 'tolerate' someone in this fashion implies doing your partner a favour, like saying 'You don't make me happy, but I am generous and so I put up with you.' I don't call that love. It's an outrage on yourself and the other person.

... what is called service and sacrifice is in fact fulfilment of joy when there is love behind it.

PS: You can find my another post based on this novel here where I've tried to jot down some of the important aspects the novel tries to draw attention to.

9 comments:

  1. Awesome!! .. dude..i'd like more details on the book maybe.. you can hand it over to me so i can read it =) sounds quite interesting... aah u write really well did u know that?

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  2. Thanks for the compliment yaar :)

    The book is really good. A must read. They've described overall environment of a fictitious place 'Anandgram' which is truly awesome. And, in fact, the author of the book lives in a place quite similar to that in south Gujarat.

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  3. So, at last you got a nice background!...How are you? I'm fine...c u there in Dec'09...Bye bye

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  4. hi
    as a part of my assignment i ws searching 4 some real good articles abt seven steps.. n i found 2 of ur articles..lemme say tht i really liked them, being a male,its really appreciable tht u have understood such feelings of female n n had expressed it in such a nice way..
    Thanx a zillion... :)

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  5. Hi Kalindi!

    Thanks for the appreciation. I'm glad that this blog's post could help you :-)

    When someone tells me something on the lines of 'being a male OR in spite of being a male, I'm a feminist', I actually feel a bit sad. Why is it that not many men look at the unfairness the way we do? :-)

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  6. thank you harsh, for telling me the story of "seven steps in the sky", it will help me in my exam. you are a very good story teller. thank you again.

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  7. @Anonymous,

    Thanks for the appreciation.

    The pleasure is mine :-)

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  8. Harsh...i had read this book three or four tyms...it is awesome book ever .....bt u describe it very well......impressive........<3

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    1. @Anonymous,

      It's really a wonderful novel.

      By the way, I just collected the excerpts directly from the book and posted them here. The lines are from the English version of that book.

      Thanks for the comment anyway :-) And, it's Haresh :-)

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