Life Out Of Reach: Spare Burden
In this transcendent memoir, Jas Dosanjh, one of six girls born to immigrants who moved from India to Wolverhampton, tells a raw and harrowing first-hand account of growing up in a harsh, oppressive and male-dominated Sikh Punjabi family. In conversations with her therapist, Jas describes her grandfather’s way of dealing with unwanted daughters.
“My grandfather had eight children. Well, he had more, but he’d disposed of some of ‘em in India as soon as they’d been born.”
“Yeah, you know…strangled, drowned, suffocated.”
Living in modern Britain, but with no intention of integrating into English culture, the men in Jas’s family brought with them brutal beliefs that continued to control and oppress their wives, sisters, and daughters. Women can be beaten merely for talking to a man. Boys are a prized addition, while girls are seen as valueless, a spare burden to be disposed of by marriage to the first available man. Her mother’s determination to have a son creates personal consequences for the entire family and when her uncle kills a Muslim teenager, the noose around the necks of the girls in Jas’s family gets tighter. Even at her comprehensive school, Jas finds the rivalry between Sikhs and Muslims is fierce and she finds herself having to fight for her right to befriend Muslims. Her attempts to break through the gender, religious and racial prejudices surrounding her bring Jas into conflict both outside the home and with those she loves. This captivating memoir describes the fascinating journey a young Jas makes into her teenage years. It will grip you from its very first page, enraging and shocking you at the injustice and blatant inequality suffered by Jas at the hands of her own family.