Honestly, when I started the book, I did not expect it to be too great. I bought it because I had heard it was a classic in Hindi literature and I expected something solid for sure, but , nothing this extraordinary.
Right from the very beginning, the story, the characters, the setup, everything just engulfed me into this book. The characters are so complex, so rich, so varied. The story is an intricate weave of intense and light emotions alike. There are contrasts and similarities and they are very appropriately placed. There are ideological debates about platonic and carnal love, about love and arranged marriage, about Hindu customs, about sacrifice and acceptance and denial. The book deals with white, black and grey areas of life of the two protagonists, Chander and Sudha and the supporting cast. The depiction of lives, the conversations, the situations, the feelings are all so perfectly written that not once will your imagination fail you. It is intense, and tragic and deep story about love and passion and its pains and sacrifices and gains.
The book is remarkable not only because of its touching and excellent storyline but also because of the use of language and technical excellence in writing. Even when he describes the sex scenes, not once is there anything vulgar. The words are poetic and beautiful. The conversations between Sudha and Chander are light and flirty as they should be to give us the exact view of their relationship which is that of deepest devotion and love but of which they are unaware. He paints a contrast so well. While the relationship between Sudha and Chander is that of a god and its devotee, that of Pammi and Chander is that of bodily needs and very human in nature. Bharti ji also discusses philosophies of love and life and argues it from every viewpoint. He never fully segregates views and elevates one or the other. He gives reasons for both. Chander is not ashamed of what he did and Sudha does not blame him either. What they find initially difficult and later come to accept is that when you are going platonic, exclusivity becomes difficult because bodily needs come in and then all one has is trust in the love of each other.
I just can’t get it out of mind. It is marvellous. A book says all about its authors creative genius and Bharti Ji gets full points here. I would go as far as to say that Chander and Sudha are as great literary characters as Romeo and Juliet, Heer and Ranjha ,as Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza. If only, this reached a wider audience, more people would get to see the genius of Bharti ji.