This book is a biographical tale based on the life of a woman simply known as Gowri. Subtitled A Biographical Tale about a Spirited Resilient Malaysian Indian Woman, it is a narrative of her trials and tribulations, her joys and sorrows, the events that she shared with her children and those vividly recalled by her family. It is a story that reﬂects the grit of an immigrant Indian woman, widowed at a young age, who brought up seven children all born in a new land, the Malay Peninsula, where her progeny now extend to three generations. Save for some individuals to whom pseudonyms have been applied, the names been left intact.
Gowri’s biography spans the history of her adopted country, from pre- to the late 1990s. Thus it captures significant moments of this Gowri was a Malayalee, originating from Kerala, a state situated on tropical Malabar Coast of south-western India. The casual reader will Malayalee traditions sprinkled in abundance throughout the book — traditions Gowri’s descendants inherited and which contribute rich multicultural fabric of the Malaysian society they live in today. Gowri’s travel experiences, including pilgrimages, in her later life add as much to her story as the narration of the foods and festivals of the Malay, Chinese and Indian communities in the country. It is worth noting that there are many young Malaysians, including Gowri’s progeny, who remain unaware of the country’s early history. Simultaneously, in narrating the customs and traditions of the Keralites in the book, the author felt it would be appreciated by many domiciled Indians of Kerala descent in Malaysia and elsewhere in the world who have lost touch with their traditions, including Hindus who remain only vaguely knowledgeable about their religion.
Also woven into her biography are her travel experiences, especially in her later life, which she enjoyed sharing with her grandchildren, and interesting and Chinese cultures that touched her life, which she loved her relatives in India and abroad. Events in her life as they faithfully recorded with no malice intended to parties from any even when disappointed or hurt, Gowri brooked no malice in her life. Her kind and forgiving nature stamped her as an exceptional individual. Her biography is written, and is to be read, in this light.
About the author: V.G. Kumar Das began his career as a lecturer at the University of Malaya (UM) in the Department of Chemistry in 1970 soon after completing his studies at the University of Queensland on a Colombo Plan scholarship (1961-1969). He has the distinction of being the first holder of the Chair of Inorganic Chemistry at UM in 1980. His distinguished research in the field of tin-based chemicals won him the National Science Award in 1989 and Gold Medal from the Malaysian Institute of Chemistry. He has published over 200 journal papers and three scientific books which have been well received. He was conferred the DSDK Award for his services to higher education in the State of Kedah in 2005, which carries the title Dato. In 2010, he was elevated to the rank of professor emeritus by UM and to the rank of senior fellow or academician by ASM in whose activities he is now very much involved, having formally retired from working life in 2013.
“In this eloquently written homage to his mother, Das recounts how Gowri emigrated from South India to Malaysia in the late 1930s. Her story is contextualised within the Japanese occupation of Malaysia during WWII and half a century of Indian and Malaysian politics and cultural shifts. …widowed at a young age with seven children… through her many travails. [Gowri] transforms from a woman who didn’t dare address her husband directly and had never eaten in a restaurant before marriage to someone who stands up to her sister’s emotional abuses and travels the world…” ― Blue-Ink Review
“This biography reveals a woman’s exceptional courage, a mother’s unconditional love, and a matriarch’s uncompromising will to see her family survive and thrive.” ― The Star, Kuala Lumpur
“…a stirring account of one woman’s journey from pre-independent Kerala in India, to colonial Malaya. The book’s central character Gowri is the heir of many traditions deeply forged by her matriarchal lineage. Her journey away from her motherland is in many ways symbolic of transformations; transformation of a young woman into adulthood, launched into motherhood, shaped by her cultural heritage and challenges of context. She is the pillar of strength while she defines herself in her quest for her own identity and that of her family. …Das enthrals readers with his evocative prose that invokes an era of romanticism blended with historic realities. …The book interspersed with culture, tradition, and rich diasporic narratives delivers on many fronts, and is a valuable contribution to the new definitions of the Indian female, one that is not overpowered and confined to inner spaces of domestic households and repressive patriarchy often predominant in literary works from the sub- continent.” ― Prof Beena Giddharan, Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor, Curtin University Malaysia
“Gowri is an absorbing saga of a Malaysian Indian family through three generations… The characters are well etched particularly that of the protagonist, where her piety, wisdom, strength of character, her adaptability and intelligence becomes apparent to the reader through the interestingly written recital of various events in her life. The language flows smoothly and the descriptions are riveting. One of the strengths of the book is that it has a flavour of vernacular writing in India. It makes available an authentic Indian sensibility to people of Indian origin who do not read Indian languages, and otherwise can only get this from sometimes indifferent translations.” ― U. Heruron, Bangalore (India) (rated 5 out of 5 stars in Amazon),