In Exile

In Exile

Rupture, Reunion, and My Grandmother’s Secret Life

Written by: Ansari, Sadiya

In a deeply personal investigation, award-winning journalist Sadiya Ansari takes us across three continents and back a century as she seeks the truth behind a family secret. Why did her grandmother Tahira abandon her seven children to follow a man from Karachi to a tiny village in Punjab? And though she eventually left the man, Tahira remained estranged from her children for nearly two decades. Who was she in those years when she was no longer a wife or mother? For Sadiya herself, uninterested in marriage and children, the question begets another: What space is available to women who defy cultural expectations? 

 

Through her inquiry, Sadiya discovers what her daadi's life was like during that separation and she confronts difficult historical truths: the pervasiveness of child marriage, how Partition made refugees of millions of families like hers, and how the national freedoms achieved in 1947 did not extend to women’s lives. She sees the threads of this history woven through each generation after, and finds an unexpected sense of belonging in a culture that, at first blush, shuns women for wanting lives of their own.

In a deeply personal investigation, award-winning journalist Sadiya Ansari takes us across three continents and back a century as she seeks the truth behind a family secret. Why did her grandmother Tahira abandon her seven children to follow a man from Karachi to a tiny village in Punjab? And though she eventually left the man, Tahira remained estranged from her children for nearly two decades. Who was she in those years when she was no longer a wife or mother? For Sadiya herself, uninterested in marriage and children, the question begets another: What space is available to women who defy cultural expectations? 

 

Through her inquiry, Sadiya discovers what her daadi's life was like during that separation and she confronts difficult historical truths: the pervasiveness of child marriage, how Partition made refugees of millions of families like hers, and how the national freedoms achieved in 1947 did not extend to women’s lives. She sees the threads of this history woven through each generation after, and finds an unexpected sense of belonging in a culture that, at first blush, shuns women for wanting lives of their own.

Published By House of Anansi Press Inc — Aug 13, 2024
Specifications 224 pages | 5.5 in x 8.5 in
Written By

SADIYA ANSARI is a Pakistani Canadian journalist based in London. Her work has appeared in the Guardian, VICE, Refinery29, Maclean’s, The Walrus, and the Globe and Mail, among others. She has reported from North America, Asia, and Europe, and her work has changed legislation and won awards. She is co-founder of the Canadian Journalists of Colour, a 2021 R. James Travers Foreign Corresponding Fellow, and a 2023–24 Asper Visiting Professor at the University of British Columbia.

Written By

SADIYA ANSARI is a Pakistani Canadian journalist based in London. Her work has appeared in the Guardian, VICE, Refinery29, Maclean’s, The Walrus, and the Globe and Mail, among others. She has reported from North America, Asia, and Europe, and her work has changed legislation and won awards. She is co-founder of the Canadian Journalists of Colour, a 2021 R. James Travers Foreign Corresponding Fellow, and a 2023–24 Asper Visiting Professor at the University of British Columbia.