"The inspirational memoir of a mother and school principal in India and beyond"
Reviewed by Clare O'Beara
Posted July 17, 2017
Non-Fiction Inspirational | Non-Fiction Biography
This fourth in the series of memoirs by Anu Vasisht's
daughter, Shabnam Vasisht, takes us through Anu's later
years as a school principal in India and into her
retirement. We see the title is very apt, because Anu was
tugged in many directions both physically and emotionally
during ANU: THE TUG OF WAR YEARS.
Starting at a new school, Anu received a mysterious warning
letter which hinted that some staff were not to be trusted
and would resent her arrival. Anu did not know whether to
pay heed and resolved to be careful but take everyone at
face value. In years to come as political tensions were
played out over the populous country, the same occurred on
a smaller scale in her own community. Anu lived through
the assassination of Indhira Ghandi and witnessed both good
and bad local events.
Meanwhile, Anu's three lovely daughters were taking after
her in their determination to be educated and self
supporting. Priti and Kavita learned Indian culture and
modern business, moving away as they trained or gained work
in Bahrain, Britain and USA. Shabnam specialised in art and
fabric design, moving to Belfast and starting a shop, then
travelling to Ireland and buying a house in Dublin. I am
delighted to see that the travels Anu had undertaken with
the girls as children, showing them many sides of India,
was now occurring in reverse, with the girls inviting Anu
to their new homes in spectacular surroundings. While in
Bahrain Anu was even invited on board a US aircraft
Sadly Anu's ex-husband remained estranged but she was able
to reconcile with some of his family members. Her own
family conversely became more distant, especially after her
mother's death with a house to be divided, and friends came
to mean more. Personal tensions echoed the dangers for an
older woman living alone and the corruption found at every
level of the country. Shabnam has stated these issues as
simply as possible, without dramatising them and presents
Anu as hoping for the best but cogisant of the potential
ANU: THE TUG OF WAR YEARS contains many stunning and
brightly coloured photos from the family albums. If I can
pack as much into my life as Anu did I will be very busy
Anuís new job began with a baptism of fire.
Although she confronted it with her characteristic optimism
and indomitable spirit, the pace was unrelenting. As a
result of her own experiences, Anu became a constant source
of information and advice to others in similar situations.
Added to professional problems were concerns for her mother
and siblings, and the future of her children.
Between the slumps were several peaks, the highest, in Anuís
mind, being the successful rearing of her three daughters
into independent women. This may not have been possible had
she not instilled her faith, courage and sense of adventure
At the age of seventy-four, Anu made a brave decision that
would, once again, have a dramatic impact on her life.
But thatís another story . . .
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