Banaras celebrates death, but what does it do to the living dead? When three-year-old Brinda is widowed after being married for a few hours, her family refuses to take her back in. Deemed ‘munhoos’, she finds her way to Nirmala Ashram in Banaras where she leads a life of child widow under the watchful eye of Vasanti Bua and her friend, Debi. She and Debi are just another shade of white in the city’s numerous ‘white shadows’ until Sia and Uday return to Banaras. As visitors to the ancient city, they assumed that the unfinished stories of their past were long behind them. Little did they know that Banaras was waiting with its unspent debt and the dishonest voices would find their way back to them in Brinda and Debi. Will Banaras, standing at the crossroads between the ancient and the modern, help them expiate? Will they find what they once lost—love, longing or perhaps nirvana?
A sober read that brings up the lives of innocent widows in Banaras is the story in this book. The book starts off with young Brinda and her brothers playing. Brinda is young, I mean very just that she is 3 years old. The house in the village is gearing up for a major celebration. No you’re wrong if you assume it would be the carnival or temple fest, it’s Brinda’s marriage. Yes, you heard me right, the three year old girl is being married off to an eleven year old boy, Biswaas.
The celebrations take place in a grand manner. Brinda is married to Biswaas who is from another village. So soon after the marriage and feast she is being sent off. Biswaas seemed disinterested right from when the marriage talks were on. Brinda cries her lungs out when she is being sent, but that is how it is in the villages. Upon her arrival she is welcomed by the siblings and her mother in law. Few moments later there is a strong downpour after which there are floods. The entire family except her father in law is lost and she keeps sobbing. When taken back to her village, things are not in their favor and she is marked as a sign of bad omen. Her brother Jhulan takes up an oath to come see her soon.So the father in law who is suffering a deadly ailment is forced to send her to Nirmala ashram run by Vasanti Bua , a home for the widows.
She being the youngest takes time to settle but is close with Debi upon whom there are numerous eye of the landlord for flesh trade. Vasanti Bua, safeguards her from the evil eyes and runs the ashram. Sia who returns to Banaras wants to bring this out to the world and give these young women a better place to live. Uday, a journalist photographer, stumbles upon SIa who then enlightens him the current situation. What happens next? Does Brinda meet her brother, what happened to Biswaas, Does Sia reunite with her love? Who takes over the ashram after Vasanti Bua is the rest of the story.
The author takes the plot in a slow pace and the sufferings of the widows and condition of the ashram is something we worry off. The vocabulary used is simple and easy to understand. It is a slow read and took me a couple of days to finish. I would not say this is a gripping read, but has a different style on its own.
The cover design could have been better. The characterization is done well with few characters playing their part. Nothing is over exaggerated. The narrations with respect to Sia’s life flashback could have been briefed instead of a longer write up.
- Paperback:232 pages
- Publisher:Readomania (17 August 2018)
Writing and presentation: 3.5/5
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Mona Verma is an alumni of prestigious Lady Shri Ram College, New Delhi and an award winning author of 6 works of fiction, A Bridge to Nowhere, God is a River, the White Shadow, the Clown of Whitefields and other stories, the Other and Lost and Found in Banaras. She had edited various science journals, self -help books, biographies and is a regular feature writer for online newspapers. She is on board of various Universities as an advisory expert and is much sought as visiting faculty for Creative writing, Haiku and Limericks. She is now a member of FICCI and member of Writers’ meet called for by Governor of Uttarakhand, at Rajbhawan Dehradun. A Paul Harris fellow, she actively volunteers with Interplast, Germany and Rotary International foundation for the treatment of surgical accidents and burns victims. Recently, she has been honored with the executive membership in the Management Committee of Anushruti, a social initiative of IIT, Roorkee for the exemplary work done for the special children at Anushruti. She is also serving as a member of the Academic Review Committee with Anushruti, IIT Roorkee. Presently, she co-owns and runs her firm Disha, an education consultancy and thought leading initiative, which deals with corporate, organizational and faculty/student trainings in schools and Universities. Apart from the above, she has a keen interest in classical music, charcoal sketching, oil painting, photography and travel.