Name of the Book: These Lines of Mehendi
Author: Sumeetha Manikandana
Star Rating: 5 stars
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here
"A ‘married woman’ is an auspicious creature as far as weddings are concerned. It doesn’t matter if her husband is greedy, selfish, foolish, retarded or if she herself was abused, beaten and miserable.”
And with this note “These Lines of Mehendi by Sumeetha Manikandan” opens the window to our hypocritical society. Have you ever seen the loneliness and desperation etched on the faces of the widows in the streets of Banaras? Young girls can lead a life of desolation and poverty, yet when they try to make something out of their lives, they are shunned by our society. But those same girls can be forced into a life of prostitution and warming the bed of the rich class without anyone pointing their fingers at the men. At that point of time when they are ‘touched’ ‘felt’ and ‘seen’, their inauspicious tags are not questioned by our society. And the saddest part is, we cannot always blame the men for this. Often it’s the woman who causes misery in another woman’s life.
Lalitha is a widow. But her being a widow is not her only problem. She became a widow much before the actual death of her husband. Her husband was abusive and had an affair. She had left her husband just a few months after her marriage and years later she gets the news that he has committed suicide. While the reasons are not known to her, her well-settled life again representing the so-called set paradigm of our hypocritical society. Now she is no longer an abused wife but a widow, which according to our society is a fate by far much worse than being abused. Especially in the line of business, Lalitha was in. Brides would not consider having even her shadow as auspicious.
But fate intervenes and Shrikanth enters her life. A man colored by his past and now he wants only a marriage of convenience. Will the two be able to move on in life forms the nucleus of this short novella by Ms. Manikandan.
What I liked …
Ms. Manikandan has a very soft tone in regaling her stories. You can almost get the feeling of a bonfire night and be listening to tales. Even when the issues are serious, it’s not preachy and weaves in well as a background to the main love story.
Marriage is such a nerve wrecking institution. When you promise your Life to stay with a stranger without knowing where the road is leading to. As a woman, I never guessed how a man would feel, but Ms. Manikandan has brought out the man’s perspective beautifully. Shrikanth’s jitters, his nervousness, and that slight eagerness to see Lalitha are all showcased with the words the author has painted the scene with.
This story has an old movie charm. Innocence. A southern flavor that will make you instantly feel at home with all the characters in this novel – from Padma, the aunt to Geethamma. Ms. Manikandan has created a lovely feel at home kind of story. The voice used throughout is soft and pulls the reader into the love story of Lalitha and Srikanth. The SMS conversation between the two is heart touching.
Would I recommend it:
With a lot of family values and in today’s day and age an innocent love story. Romance readers you will find passion can be subtle too.
I had read this book earlier when it was part of a dual collection. Re- reading any novel is actually not my cup of tea but somehow I got sucked into this story and it reads even better than the earlier version.
Grab your copy here