Life in a red light district.
[By Nidhi Mahajan]
Literary critic and blogger Nidhi Mahajan discussed Nobody Can Love You More: Life in Delhi’s Red Light District, a book by The Delhi Walla, on her website Literature Martini. Click here to read the review, or see below.
NOBODY CAN Love You More is one of those engaging and overwhelming reads that leave you with so many thoughts but not enough words to put them in. When I picked up this book, my first impression of it was that as a non-fiction book about Delhi’s red light district, it will explore the lives of women who live and work at GB Road. It was a pleasant surprise to discover that the book is so much more than just that. Soofi has picked up experiences, anecdotes and even passing comments of a myriad set of people whose lives have been built and shaped by this forced peripheral existence in society.
The stories are overwhelmingly insightful and Soofi’s observant nature is reflected in the detailing and depth that he provides to each story and character. What is remarkable is that he is able to weave together these different strands to produce a larger narrative which gives us a picture of not just the specific area that the book concerns itself with but a picture of the city of Delhi itself. He does this in a way that a reader, especially someone like me who has lived all her life in Delhi, experiences a sense of unfamiliarity and alienation. At one point, it was almost as if the city of Delhi was a stranger whom I had never met or talked to before.
You would expect the characters in the book to be different, out of ordinary or “normal”, not the kind of people you meet every day. However, the “normalcy” inherent in the way they live their lives and go on about their work takes you by surprise. On the surface, they might appear as everyday men and women who work, raise their children, visit religious places and so on. Underneath, they are complex, deep and dark characters with stories from the past and present that have molded and continue to mold their lives and their future.
I loved how Soofi introduces you not just to the women but also to the families that live at GB Road. In fact, I could not help but fall in love with the characters of Omar and Osman, two of the children who live at Kotha No. 300. These boys tell you how their world lies outside “society” — a place where all “good” and “respected” people live. They also have some very interesting comments about religion — about heaven and hell and the devil. Their words take you back to your own childhood. They make you think how our minds are conditioned from our very childhood. The lives of these children reflect upon the many lives that have been shaped at GB Road.
Nobody Can Love You More is not exactly a travel book. It is an experience blended effectively with fiction. The narrative is accompanied by black and white pictures which enhance the realistic representation that Soofi has attempted to achieve. Brilliantly captured, in both written word and visual art, Nobody Can Love You More gives you a glimpse into a part of the city that you have never known. The experience is rich and stays with you much after you’ve parted with the book.
The paperback edition is available in book stores and shopping websites across India
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