“”Nobody can know a man’s heart, his intentions.” said Akash. “The rest of the world may laugh and judge. They may gossip and theorise, but you can’t know who I loved and who I did not.””
Author: Nillu Nasser Published: 2017 Pages: 289
This story begins with Jaya and Akash; two people forced into an arranged marriage for their parents’ benefit and reaping the consequences for the lack of love between them. As the novel begins, Jaya suspects that Akash is cheating, and only a little later discovers that she is correct. What ensues afterwards is a whirlwind of complex emotion, irrational behaviour and ultimately two very broken people.
I liked the way the the author managed to deal with a taboo subject, and rather than just intrusively shoving her opinion on the matter in the reader’s face, she handles it with subtlety, delicacy and most importantly provides us with a justification, in the form of the two main characters, of why she thinks it is an antiquated tradition. (Or at least that’s how I perceived her tone.)
Jaya yearns for a real connection with somebody and it’s clear from Nasser’s writing that she is a character who feels a lot. Her emotion is what drives her, it’s what gives her motivation but her ability to be consumed by it is also her downfall. Akash, on the other hand, is a character who learns all too late the impact his actions can have. In my opinion he is a coward and I didn’t have much sympathy for him at all.
I loved the relationships between the characters in the novel too, they were all very genuine and plausible. I especially liked the parent-children dynamic in the families, they really showed how different attitudes can change the way you see your parents. I also thought that Nasser dealt with themes of mental health well; she approached them in a delicate way while also confronting the reality of what the characters were going through. I think she is successful in portraying their loneliness and their vulnerability while also making sure that she proves their strength.
If I was going to make any criticism it would be that I would have liked to see the couple before Jaya catches her husband cheating, either in a flashback or just as a few chapters at the beginning. I would have liked to see the struggle for them to marry despite there being no real connection but knowing that it would benefit their families.
Overall I think it’s safe to say I would definitely read more from this author. Nasser’s writing is elegant and polished, her storytelling is quite something and I think her ability to delve into heavy topics while still writing in a light-hearted way is superb.
Thank you to the author Nillu Nasser for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.