Dialectic of Remembering and Forgetting
Amandeep Caur
DARK STAR by Ranbir Sidhu Context, an imprint of Westland Books, 2022, 142 pp., ₹499.00
May 2023, volume 47, No 5

Dark Star by Ranbir Sidhu is a powerful rendition of the act of remembering. It is a three-part internal monologue by an elderly woman who has returned from California to her husband’s ancestral village in Punjab, and is now trying to learn how to die since ‘Death is a mystery, no one teaches you how to die’ (p. 69).  As the novel unfolds, the woman is suspended in a dream-like state, at the mercy of her memories. These memories wade through different traumas, both personal and collective, locating the narrative within the frame of her troubled past, the Partition, the Khalistan movement and the recent farmers’ protest. Through these memories, the novel endeavours to trace the dialectic of remembering and forgetting.

From the very beginning, the old narrator contemplates on the decisions that she could not make, the decisions that were forced upon her by others—mostly by her father and her husband, all the while breaking into reveries about an alternative life that she thinks she could live only if she had more agency and power in decision making. This absence of agency in her own life is stitched together with exclusion of women from the process of nation building, largely a man-made endeavour.

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