Devaki, an ageing widow, lives with her maid, Ambli, in a village in Kerala. Though she is haunted by nightmares from her past, she lives through the days in the belief that one day her only son, Naresh, now estranged, will return to her. One day she gets a call from her grand daughter, Sheela, who lives in the US, giving her news that Naresh and his wife Meena have been kiled in an auto accident. A story of women haunted by their past, struggling to make peace with their present and hoping to have a bearable future.
First look at the title and the cover and it completely intrigues the reader. It tends to put up a religious facade but behind that facade are many questions which still lie unanswered. The blurb talks about an aging widow and her tryst with cultural divide and other bitter truth of life. It's a precise summation which actually forces the reader to go through the book.
The story is set in America and in the backwaters of Kerala. The glittering America, now a haunted dream for Sheela and Kerala, an old sleepy place for an old woman who lives and fights alone. But destiny brings her back to reality when she comes face to face with her grand-daughter and from there on it becomes tough to contain emotions. So how will Devaki be able to handle the young, lost girl? How will Sheela respond to the entire situation? What lies buried in the past? That's what the story is all about.
It almost sounds mysterious, the novel builds up a certain eerie notion of what has happened and what is about to uncover. It spooks out the best and reserves the unknown for the last. It certainly turns around a lot of situations in its favor with it's hidden agenda. The cultural divide and grief adding to the persona of the story. The strong female head to head narration in the story gives the readers a different angle to look up in the story. There is certainly a taste of the old wine in a new bottle as the story easily traverses from the glint to the pale.
The downside of the book is it's sluggish narration and a lot of time to build the characters. The introductions feel stretched. Containment and being a lot more precise could have been a better idea. The vividness gets lost in the tides of time as it doesn't sparks off extraordinary chain of events till the end.
All in all the story doesn't fair bad under the conditions and hostile atmosphere. It certainly takes a huge chunk out of the great old debate of new v/s old and good v/s bad to keep the readers busy in the tussle. It's an age old drama which comes of age and hints at blind faith or modern day ignorance towards certain values. There are hiccups in the story. Be ready to put foot into the unknown territories and experience life with ladies at the forefront.
3 OUT OF 5