This book review is part of #TSBCReadsIndia, a reading challenge wherein one reads a book from each State and Union Territory of India. Presenting the book from Madhya Pradesh and the third of the 36 books to be read in this literary journey across India.
My earliest travel memories revolve around trains and river crossings, in particular the Narmada at Bharuch. I remember being awed by the expanse of the river flowing the railway bridge, and wondering where all that water was coming from and where it was going to. As the train crossed the river, my mother and I would fling coins from the train window into the Narmada. These were offerings, my mother would whisper into my ears, for the Narmada as it was life-sustaining and, therefore, sacred. Together, we would fold our hands and bow before the river.
Decades have passed since those train journeys. I no longer throw coins into the Narmada or other rivers from the train window, but my fascination and reverence for rivers — especially the Narmada — continues even today. And that was the reason I bought a copy of Waters Close Over Us: A Journey Along the Narmada (HB, 242 pages, 2013, Fourth Estate) by Hartosh Singh Bal, soon after its release.
The book lay unread for almost 2 years and then #TSBCReadsIndia happened. I did not even have to think twice before selecting this book as my read for Madhya Pradesh. There couldn’t be a more apt book for as just as Madhya Pradesh is the geographical heart of India, so is the river Narmada. Continue reading