Author : Radhika Swarup
Publisher : Sandstone Press
Release date : 18 Feb 2016
Pages : 288
Genre : Historical fiction / Indian history
Source : NetGalley.com
Thanks to Netgalley.com as I got to read this wonderful debut novel written by Radhika Swarup. Her words are beautiful, almost poetic embracing you in an old worldly charm, of an era gone by.
The book starts with the main protagonist, Asha and her family trying to cross the border into India. It is a mass exodus on both the sides of the border known as Partition. When the Indian sub-continent got freedom from the British, the country was divided on communal lines into two countries – India and Pakistan. Pakistan wanted to be a country for Muslims, however, India kept its secular nature. Asha and her family are living happily in Suhanpur which happened to be in Pakistan after the Partition. Initially, reluctant to leave their home where they have lived for generations, they are left with no choice but to migrate.
This is the backdrop where Asha, a teenager at the time, is living in. Her closest friend is her next door neighbour Nargis, a Muslim. Their religions don’t matter at all. And Asha falls in love with Nargis’ elder brother, Firoz. But the Partition snubs their beautiful love story as Asha moves to live in India.
Here, she marries Om, a wonderful husband and human being. She loves him whole heartedly and memories of Firoz fades away. Till one day, after decades, in their 50s/60s they meet again. What happens next is the crux of the story? Please read the book to find out.
The author takes us on an emotional journey with Asha. The emotions of the first love. Then the practicality of marrying Om. But, falling in love with him as she settles in. Then, Firoz again is too much for our emotions.
There is this beautiful quote in the book which Asha refers to many times during her life when she has to deal with choices life made for her.
Friendship, kindness, and a bit of luck.
The same sentence evokes different emotions, different memories.
The background of the Partition is very well-written. The author writes about how the people are affected by it, their helpfulness and wickedness, irrespective of religion. The language is excellent.
It’s a beautiful read for historical fiction and romance fans.