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Monday, February 03, 2014

Book Review : ‘Afternoon Girl - My Khushwant Memoir’ by Amrinder Bajaj

I have finished this book, ‘Afternoon Girl - My Khushwant Memoir’ today. I must say the ‘affection’ she has for Khushwant Singh is pretty obvious. I had never heard of her, not read any of her books, or short stories, so the expectations one might have when one is reading a book, were absent.

'Afternoon Girl’ started off with the initial meeting this aspiring writer has with Khushwant Singh, and then went through an entire range of emotions including his indifference. One has to admire the persistence which the author shows, in which she manages to regain his affection. 

Her own marital complications, including her affair, her children, familial problems and a crumbling marriage are mentioned in the book. She seeks and finds support in Khushwant Singh, who is himself dealing with similar problems.

While I read the book, I was very interested in it at the start, considering her subject and her profession. I was expecting something a little different, considering she is in a gynaecologist. But I must say, I was pretty disappointed. 

The book is mainly letters, which the two of them exchanged, interspersed with her poetry and her rather silly jokes. Of course, Mr Singh has his fair share of dirty jokes, but his insights are the most interesting parts in the book.

Her text is not exactly smooth; everything seems too disjointed. Her writing to describe her issues and her jokes just seem a little disorganized.  It is all a little too much for this book.The encounters with her mentor are better elaborated in the letters by him. Her personal meetings with the funny and slightly grumpy old man are badly translated into text.

I did love her poetry though, simple and pragmatic. She writes it with ease and familiarity. This however, she did not manage to do with her writing of the book. It was quite simply, boring. It really took me more than the weekend to finish this memoir, which is unusual for me.

He is her mentor; that much is obvious.  Her book is at least honest and pretty much dispels certain rumours about the ‘dirty old man’. What the letters have is the affection he has for his protégé, because of their rather odd friendship. He makes it obvious in his write ups and reviews, which are mentioned in the book. The patience he showed was endearing to read about, and I was quite interested in it. The point of this book stays unknown, even till the end.
Loved the book's cover though!

Author:  Amrinder Bajaj
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: HarperCollins
ISBN : 978-93-5029-707-0
Price: Rs 399
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