My memoir is about what kept me going: Gurmehar Kaur

My memoir is about what kept me going: Gurmehar Kaur

My memoir is about what kept me going: Gurmehar Kaur

Gurmehar Kaur, who became the focal point of a nationalism debate last year, says her answer to repeated questions about how she survived the vitriol and social media trial and from where she gathered the strength to move on is her new book.

"Small Acts of Freedom" is the story of three generations of single women in a family who have faced the world on their own terms. It has an unusual narrative structure that crisscrosses between the past and the present, spanning 70 years from 1947 to 2017.

From her grandmother who came to India from Lahore after Partition to the whirlwind romance between her parents, from her war martyr father's state funeral to her experiences since her days of student activism, Gurmehar's debut is about the fierceness of love, the power of family and the little acts that beget big revolutions.

Gurmehar writes about the women in her family who fought their own battles, who stood by each other and who kept going.

"I grew up with these women, listening to their stories over and over again and watching them take on the world on their own terms," she says.

In February 2017, Gurmehar, a 19-year-old English Literature student at Lady Shri Ram College here, joined a peaceful campaign after violent clashes at Delhi University's Ramjas College.

As part of the campaign, her post (that she is not afraid of the ABVP and all students are with her) made her the target of an onslaught of social media vitriol, including death and rape threats and furious commentary from people ranging from politicians to cricketers, actors to media influencers.

Also back in the spotlight was her April 2016 video campaign for peace, in which she held up a placard saying about her father, a Kargil martyr, "Pakistan did not kill my dad, war killed him."

Suddenly, she was at the centre of the entire nationalism debate and found herself under fire from innumerable sources online and offline.

Gurmehar says she wants no one to go through what she went through, what her family went through.

"I've been trolled, mocked and bullied. I've had people call me names. And I've been frightened for my life. But I emerged from all of that more determined than ever before to never be silenced," she writes in the book, published by Penguin.

She says she has been asked different variations of one question over and over again: how did she survive that? What kept her going? What did she hold on to?

"I write this book to answer just that. My story does not start with me. The courage - or resilience or whatever you want to call it - that I was able to display did not come to me overnight. My strength is inherited. I don't believe that my existence is all about a three-day-long controversy," Gurmehar says.

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