The book is divided into sections that detail the author’s
life. At a personal level, she talks of her school years, her
college, originally a palace for royal widows, her
anxiety-driven parents, who like any other Indian parents want
her to get married in time, her quitting her job to be with her
husband in the USA and her daughters caught between Indian and
Sudha Koul and I share the same alma mater, Presentation
Convent. Though she does not mention the name of the school, but
the description of the "imposing brick clock tower"
with a golden cross, makes it easily identifiable. The school,
sadly, has since been set afire.
The author also
talks of the pride Kashmiris took in Nehru, Indira Gandhi and
Rajiva (sic) Gandhi and her brief encounters with them.
The agony of the
author, the first Kashmiri woman to make it to the IAS, is
palpable. The joy she has known while growing up surrounded by
all that pristine natural beauty is real as is her determination
never to let go of the valley she has known. Thousands of miles
away in a distant land, lost from her moorings, Sudha Koul has
made her own Kashmir.
The target reader
of the book is American. Care has been taken to explain
commonplace halwa-puri ("fried whole wheat breads
and cream of wheat dessert"). Also, every Indian knows that
Pakistan is "just a stone’s throw from my valley."
Nevertheless, torn away from her home where her heart will
always be, her earnest emotions make this memoir readable.
The Tiger Ladies
is a tribute to Kashmiriyat and a prayer that the
"legends that tell us how Kashmir rises anew from ruination
every time" are true.