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Monday, July 20, 2015

Book Review : ‘Land Where I Flee' by Prajwal Parajuly

{Prajwal Parajuly's 'Land Where I Flee' is a book, which did not take too long to figure out. The best thing was that, it does not taken any time to figure it all out. It is about an 83 old lady’s birthday reunion. And all her grandchildren are getting together to celebrate it.

That’s it, or so you thought. Okay, let us start right at the beginning. The old woman is a Nepali-speaking widow, who would turn 84, and she lives with her live in help, Prasanti. Prasanti is a transgender individual, who has a tongue in cheek retort for most people, except for the old lady, whose replies would shut anyone up.

Now, this old lady or Chitralekha Nepauney is all set to receive her grandchildren. She, unfortunately has qualms with each and every one of them.  She managed to take care of them when their parents died in a car accident when they were very young and the children, now live in various parts of the world.

The oldest is Bhagwati, who had eloped at 19 to marry a low caste, untouchable person and today, is a refugee in the US. The second is Manasa, who was married off to a man from one of Nepal’s most prominent political families. She was a good student with an Oxford degree, and an excellent job in the UK. The third is a boy, Agastaya, who is an oncologist, and also in the US. He does have a secret and manages to ward off all family talk of marriage till 34. We also have two additional guests, who make an appearance, a little later in the novel.

Okay, now that the party is set, let’s have a look at the characters and what they bring to the dining table, which turned out to be a major role player :). Now, for the background. The Gorkhaland agitation of Darjeeling plays an important role in the story. In 2013, a demand for a separate state by a few Gorkhaland agitators took on a stronger note, but it did not really go anywhere.

The foreground has Bhagawati who is still a little out of place at the table, since she has married out of her caste, followed by Manasa, who has given her grandmother the discredit, for all is, was and would  be wrong in her life. The grandson, who seems to have everything going for him except, his love life! The two guests are the ones who come in, with enough baggage but leave with enough and more. One, with a surprise, too.

The language used in this book, has enough guts to strike chords, left, right and centre. The dialogues stay on with the readers, and the way they are said is what makes the book truly arresting. There are a couple of times, I felt that the book was dragging, but thankfully that was only at the beginning. I liked the parts where Chitralekha and Prasanti make an appearance too. They brought on in enough fun to last the whole book. 

Everybody’s problems have been faced by most of us, in bits and pieces. The book is not extraordinary, yet has the touch of an author who wants to make his presence felt. The story does not go and on, which it was quite capable of doing. It seems to stop at the correct points and make it really worthy of a definite read.

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