I just finished reading this book called "Afterwards" by Jaishree Misra, while lazing around on my break from work for a few days. I don't really write a review of a book, but do want to write about it in my blog.
'Afterwards' is the story which begins when we have happily concluded one. 'Afterwards' begins where the flow of a river pours itself into an ocean and we believe it's all over; the journey of the river is over. But, then we get know it's not... this novel is the story of the journey afterwards.
A simple and beautiful woman Maya, deeply unhappy with her possessive and well to do husband, wants to run away from this life and seeks support from a young man who has just shifted to her neighbourhood. Rahul, the young man whose love for Mridangam brings her to Kerala for vacation (and of course he wants to give himself a breather from her breakup from an non-understanding girl friend). Smitten by the beauty of his neighbour, Rahul can't resist spending time with Maya and her little daughter Anjali, visiting monuments and eating together. But soon, he realises that the beautiful eyes bore deep sadness within them. Maya's husband was too possessive for her comfort, so she wants to run away along with her daughter. She was helpless as she had no support from her parents or parents in law.
Rahul, after initial confusion, agrees to help her and takes Maya and Anjali to UK, where he was working and settled. Maya was disowned by her parents and her death rites were performed by her parents. But, away from the preening eyes of their Indian relatives and friends, they lived together happily in UK. Maya and Anjali adjusted to the new life easily and Maya began to work for an NGO for women. They lived happily....... ever after.....I wish they lived liked that forever. But the story begins at this point.
No, there is no conflict between the two, neither Maya's husband nor Rahul's mother landed up there to be a spoil sport. But destiny turned their world upside down. That is what the story 'afterwards' is.
My thoughts and opinion :
There are just two things which disappoint me about this novel.
First, the story- which is hardly a reality in Indian context. And second, a woman author speaking from the character of a man, which didn't do any justice to it.
All in all, this was like a beautiful fairy tale! A fantasy of a young girl tied down by the social and moral bondages, who chooses to set herself free in her imagination. This story can give hope to any Indian girl, suffering in her marriage helplessly that there is a 'Prince Charming', who will come one day and take her along to a new, unseen and wonderful world.
It was very simplistic of the author to think that a man would ever think of eloping with a married woman with a 1-2 year old daughter, and that too when the lady has no money or jewellery or a degree to support herself and on top of all that when the man is not even in love with her!
First of all, running away with another man's wife itself calls for a lot of courage.... or stupidity. And since when possessiveness and possessiveness alone is cruelty in Indian marriages? May be the Supreme Court says so, but the ground reality is that with women being more competitive now a days and men still standing where they were 10 years back are generally possessive about their women, say it or hide it!
And parents not supporting their daughter if she wants to leave her husband.... sounds familiar, right?! Yes, that happens all the time... in the huge bungalows to the small rented houses, that happens always.
Had Maya taken the legal course, she would have been better off.... even time proved that.
Secondly, as I said, when a woman speaks from a man's mouth, she generally does not do justice. A man's thought process, perception, expressions, ways of expressing love, calculation in practical matters and reactions to situation is far different from a woman's. It goes without saying. I felt all the time that it was a woman speaking with that hoarse voice of a man!
Was it intentional or by error that the author forgot to tell the reader how and when Maya fell in love with Rahul? How a possessive husband suddenly fizzled out and never ever tried to find her wife... and became a lamenting grief stricken weak man? How could Rahul, who ran away with someone's wife thought that he could actually nurse his anger for the poor husband, as he was 'possessive' about his wife and 'doubted her' too much?! Or was that he defense mechanism?!
Things, first were not seen from Indian society's point of view, where eloping with a man doesn't entitle you to any right to be angry with anyone, no matter what. A girl has shamed everyone, if she just runs away like that. An educated woman like her could have fought for herself, instead of running away. And second, about the style of writing, it should not have been the recollection of thoughts by a man when the author was a woman.
Overall, a very touching read... it melts your heart.... keeps you connected with it. It weaves the story very well, giving full chance for all the characters to make a mark in the story line. You can't finish reading this book without shedding a tear or too!
PS : Thanks friend for lending me this book for so long!