Chronicling the life of an Indian woman
Indian setup is a trifle stifling when we think about the ancient norms that we follow. We are given a rule book when we are born. Our choices are limited, our voices unheard. We take to streets against the mind numbing crimes every other day. But our sloganeering falls on deaf ears. Time and again there have been writers like Ismat Chugtai, Manto, Amrita Pritam, Shashi Deshpande who have brewed up a storm with their writing. And these sure seem to be the idol of a debut author Siddhi Palande (Prasiddhi), who with her debut novel “Beyond The Veil – The Journey Of An Indian Girl” speaks fervently for equality and liberty.
The book opens with a prologue set in 1998 and gives us a glimpse into the making of the protagonist, Janhvi Desai. Soon we hear the protagonist rant against the social setup as she takes us through the pages of her life. One at a time she unfolds a chapter of her life.
Janhvi Desai isn’t a stereotypical protagonist, she has a mind of her own, she seems like a damsel in distress but doesn’t wait for a Prince Charming to rescue her. A sound adult, she is of a marriageable age. Her marriage to an eligible bachelor, Ram, gains her nothing but misery and loneliness. A small town girl she has aspirations unspoken. Away from the patriarchal pressure, in an unknown city with an estranged husband, she rediscovers herself. She has courage in her bosom and a never-say-die attitude. Her life in metro introduces her to the veiled world of pg3 parties and showoff. Despite being in a big city she is warding off demons from the past. And while dealing with that she encounters sad realities of life. Not only are her achievements scorned upon but her friend becomes a victim of dowry death and she herself is put under pressure of submitting to the needs of her husband. She is bashed up for having guts. Despite being a lawyer, Janhvi cannot voice against the society. Yet this doesn’t stop her from being herself.
Then again, this story isn’t about Janhvi’s struggle with those in power. It is equally the story of Ram, her husband who has been a victim of patriarchy. He is Ram Raghuvanshi yet he is flawed. He has been delusional and sees life only as entertainment. He has lost his love and himself under the influence of his demons. He is wounded and needs to embrace his life as is. Janhvi Desai will be his healer as he will be hers.
The book takes us through each incident that shapes Janhvi’s life. Her chronicle as an Indian woman comes along with one too many life lessons. The author cleverly reacquaints us with some crude realities of a patriarchal Indian system. The author has a knack to give out some healthy quotes that you can use in your everyday life and the storytelling is quite subtle. The novel hosts right elements to pique your curiosity; the suspense is enough to turn pages. The writer uses two distinct method to engage the readers namely cliff hanger and question. Every chapter leaves us a delicate yet hard hitting question thus making you think. The book maintains a balance by giving out a factual report but displaying underlying emotions.
The title of the novel needs a mention here because we do not get to see such titles anymore. Veil here symbolizes a poker face. We continually bluff the world and ourselves by hiding our dreams and real persona. Going beyond that veil is what the book urges. On one level if it has spiritual connotations, on another it points out at the “purdah” system which is still prevalent despite having been banned ages ago.
As we go towards the climax, we are ingeniously hit with another truth which is the cause for the irreparable cords between the husband and wife. There are patches when thing turn cliché and we know the outcome but overall, the novel turns out to be an eye-opener.
On the readability scale, I rate it 8 on 10
Is it for keeps? Sure it is!
Ratings that I think it deserves 3.5 out of 5
Where to purchase your copy?
Amazon / Kindle India: http://amzn.to/2nL0gXf
Amazon / Kindle UK: http://amzn.to/2o9L5I3
Amazon / Kindle USA: http://amzn.to/2nzn8sh
Also available on Flipkart, Infibeam and other online retailers.