This past weekend I indulged in some free reading. Reading Queen of Dreams by C.B. Divakaruni was not only relaxing, Divakaruni had me struggling to put her book down. In years past it would not have been a book I would pick up. The storyline, one of a mother who dreams others dreams, is beyond my world of understanding. However, this past weekend I was wanting more.
Rakhi, the dreamer’s daughter, is where my interest remained. She was the main character in the story so I suppose that is not a surprise. But there were moments when I felt a personal connection with Rakhi. Throughout Rakhi’s young life she desired to learn about her parents home country, India. Her mother and father never spoke of India but she longed for it. Her longing had her drawing pictures of what she imagined India to look like. In a similar fashion, I had always longed to see Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. My parents shared stories of their young lives in East Africa but they never filled my longing to see Tanzania. Rakhi’s mothers comment: “I see now that I brought you up wrong. I thought it would protect you if I didn’t talk about the past. That way you wouldn’t be constantly looking back, hankering, like so many immigrants do. I didn’t want to be like those other mothers, splitting you between hear and there, between your life right now and that which can never be.” (p.99) really stood out to me.
I started to think about the desires of individuals, the living in between spaces and cultures, and the inability to protect or prevent another from living in between these spaces. I also started to think about Canada’s newly arriving immigrants and what choices they would make. Will they assimilate fully into Canadian life and attempt to leave behind their previous outside of Canada lives? Will they maintain connection, hold onto traditions, and promote living in between cultures to their children?
And while I do not connect with the dreamer’s story in this book, perhaps because I myself do not vividly dream, it was interesting to learn of a potential lifestyle of others. I would be wrong to believe that there are not individuals who dream in such a manner. In the Western world we have psychics. But I am curious if visiting a dreamer or having a dreamer enter one’s life is of regular practice in India and other parts of the world. Would cultures elsewhere be respectful of these practices? Would ‘experts’ create a disorder to be placed in the Diagnostic and Statical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM) that would label dreamers crazy?
Divakaruni had me fully engaged throughout the 340 pages, has me thinking about various realities for individuals, and has me on edge to become witness to the cultural traditions and practices new immigrants bring with them and those they will leave behind. It would not surprise me if many more individuals are yearning to learn about their parents pasts and attempting to balance their current lives with past un-lived lives.