Book Review: Anamika
Soorina Desai’s debut novel, Anamika, was first published in the year 2005 and republished in 2015. It is the story of Anamika and Rajbir. Written with an eye for detail, the story describes a time when India had newly gained its freedom. Romance in that era was very different from what we understand today. There’s a certain old school charm that gives the book a distinct flavour. One can say that it is a welcome respite from the usual run-of-the-mill stuff which today’s writers churn out with a depressing frequency.
The story starts with the protagonist’s birth at a time of political turmoil though this struggle doesn’t bleed into the main plot. It just sets the stage for the upper echelons of the society. We get to see and feel amidst nostalgia an era long gone. We also learn why Anamika – one who has no name – comes to be named thus. The story progresses with her life and gradually we are introduced to several other characters. Among them are Rajbir Thakore and his wife Mala Thakore. When Anamika first lays her eyes on Rajbir, she is merely a ten year old who is desperate to be acknowledged by her own parents. She is also struggling to grow out of her sister’s charismatic charm. Clearly she is not the darling of her parents unlike her beautiful and charming older sibling. At this juncture in her life Rajbir and Mala’s entry is a welcome change. The childless couple takes her under their wings immediately even as her parents open their arms and their household for the former. The innocence of the situation is not lost on the readers.
Time progresses. So does the story. Rajbir becomes a surrogate in Anamika’s life. He is her friend, teacher, confidant and her recluse. It is not long when she steps into her adolescence. In moulding her to his heart’s desire, Rajbir has unknowingly and unwittingly moulded Anamika into his desire. They share similar tastes in everything. And suddenly their relationship blossoms into something more than anybody would have liked. Theirs is almost like a forbidden love. Even if the sixteen year gap in their ages can be overlooked but the fact that Rajbir is a married man, can’t be. What happen next is for you to read and find out. The book is an emotional journey through various stages of life of Anamika. It is about birth, a search for an identity, intense emotion, illusion, disillusion, acceptance, death and a personal definition of eternity all pieced together for us to look back. Perhaps the content of this book is for everybody who has been ruled by the heart, lost a lover without loosing love, asked questions to God but found answers within, and embraced life knowing it can be enjoyed only in small doses.
The story explores the unpredictability of life. It captures beautifully the essence of a bygone era. The dialogues sound natural and give distinct voice to each of the characters. The language is simple yet leaves behind a profound impact. Each chapter starts with a lovely quote. While reading, I came across some lines from a few ghazals of that era. The choice of these goes on to tell the immense research that has gone into making this story. I liked the minimalist cover of the novel too.
In short, the book is a delight to read.
Read the reviews of other books rated 3 stars by Team TP HERE