Author : Harshali Singh
Publisher : Readomania
Courage in traditional literature was a word reserved for the battlefield and predominantly for a few men of valour, the others and women were considered too weak to walk the arena that courage inhabited. Modern and contemporary writing has (thank heavens) redefined the word taking it out of the bivouacs permitting lesser mortals to lay claim to its attributes. Singh’s debut novel ‘A Window To Her Dreams’ is all about courage, this elusive quality of mind that enables a person to face challenges that in the strife of life is faced by many. The story grows with the spirit of her protagonist, Aruna, who fights demons of her past with fear at first and then with the confidence that love brings to her, eventually overcoming the wounds inflicted on her soul.
This book is a realistic take on a contemporary marriage that requires the equal participation of a man as well as a woman to make it work. It is also about the sensitivity of men often overlooked with the need to portray them as either invincible heroes or formidable villains in stories that aspire to showcase the strength of a woman. Here Singh deviates from the norm and creates Bhuvan, a sensitive male who has the quiet inner strength that is found in the many contemporary men who make their marriages work. Singh’s, Bhuvan is a giant with a heart of gold, he is complex and at the same time so simple that he wins the reader’s heart from the get go and holds it firmly in his hands to the very end. Aruna’s anguish and the dark clouds of her past influencing her present comes out so strong that despite having never experienced her pain the reader not only identifies with her, but roots for her to the very end.
The book like western audiences would expect is not just about the two protagonists and a marriage. In India, marriage is just not a union between two, it is a balancing act of infinite proportions between families and here Singh manages like a Maestro to bring on a symphony of complex characters. A distanced father dealing with his own insecurities, one estranged sister, another a clairvoyant, a set of triplet sisters with blossoming personalities and a brother who is struggling with the expectations of family and his own ambitions. Strength there is in all the characters that builds up a family that is both flawed and remarkable in their ability to hurt at the same time heal with each other. Then you have Uma, Aruna’s mother the anchor that holds her large imperfect family together with tenacity, not that surprising as it is reflective of many Indian families. The narrator surprisingly is an old ‘Haveli’ that surely has the character to speak about the family it has sheltered through various storms within and without. An inanimate whose existence is inextricably linked with the people it houses. Some questions that Singh leaves unanswered niggle at you long after you’ve put the book down. The mysterious figure of uncle Suresh, what are his feelings for Uma? And what does the Haveli hide that is known only to Uma?
More often than not writers build up their protagonist to make them larger than life inspirational, I was glad to notice that Singh does not do that. Sometimes stories should be just that about commonness and embracing it. Where the book falters is in its editing and proof reading which is sloppy and jarring but once you get past that the story within ‘A Window To Her Dreams’ by Harshali Singh establishes her as a writer worth reckoning.
The book ‘A Window To Her Dreams’ by Harshali Singh published by Readomania is available at http://books.readomania.com/book_detail.php?id=31 and http://www.amazon.in/Window-Her-Dreams-Harshali-Singh/dp/9385854283