There are few novels which grab your attention when you simply read the synopsis given on its back page. There are few synopses which promise you something awesome but fail to deliver. And then there are few synopses which promise you a strong plot.
“THE BRIDAL PYRE” is one such captivating novel. Written by debutante Avantika Debnath, this one is a brilliant one.
Written in first person, the novel describes the story of Meera Debnath, an independent and educated working woman who hails from a Bengali background. With an army background, she is everything you would find in a self made woman of today.
An online matchmaking site conversation leads to her getting married to a Bengali guy residing and “working” in USA. Ignoring all the warning signs displayed in front of her eyes in BIG BOLD letters, she goes ahead and marries the guy and his conservative family.
Little did she know that this would be the biggest mistake of her life. Post marriage, she realizes that the family is nothing what she had expected. A coward husband, a wretched father in law, horrible relatives and the worst possible mother in law – all make her life one living hell.
She is forced to demand money from her parents. She is ridiculed and insulted for every small thing she does. She is mentally tormented, emotionally drained, and finally the unthinkable happens. With a baby inside her womb, she falls down the stairs, with no one even moving to help her get up as she lay bleeding.
How she avenges her unborn baby’s death forms the crux of this novel.
With a plot as strong as this, one has to make sure the writing doesn’t disappoint. Avantika Debnath makes sure this doesn’t happen. She never beats about the bush and is outrageously honest and frank.
The language is kept simple but the detailing is superb. Every single thing she describes feels as if it is in front of your eyes.
She discloses the glaring loopholes in our country’s domestic, judiciary and socio – economic systems without the slightest of diplomacy. There is a sense of helplessness which prevails during the entire period of Meera staying at her husband’s place – a helplessness so real and frightening that you feel like shouting to her – “Please get out of this family.”
Avantika also clears a common misconception that only illiterate or culturally rooted rural women fall prey to such post marital problems. Even the educated women are forced to suffer, due to their cultural upbringing, the sanskaars inculcated by their parents and the feeling that “It will soon be okay. Just a little more.”
The final portion of the book where Meera vows to get back and avenge her child’s death is also wonderfully written. Once again, there is that feeling of hopelessness as everyone including the
police officials, media, NGO’s, lawyers refuse to help her. Her indomitable spirit is the only thing with her. Even her parents have given up hope. But as they say, hope comes in small packets.
Here, avantika triumphs once again by not following the familiar filmy path where all of a sudden our judicial system turns into a saint, the judge punishes the guilty and the protagonist lives happily ever after. NO! what is not bound to happen, will not happen. But as they say, God is the biggest judge. Slowly we start acknowledging the smartness of Avantika as “TIT FOR TAT” happens. Life is a full circle, and that is what happens here. And so, we have an ending which hardly seems contrived, but is very much real and believable. That is this book’s biggest strength. Kudos to Avantika for that.
OVERALL, “THE BRIDAL PYRE – NAINAM DAHATI PAVAKAH” is a brilliant novel. It is real, agonizing, eye – opening, heart wrenching and a must read. Way to go Avantika! If looks could kill, you would do a great job. But if writing could kill, you would prove massively fatal!
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for every single Indian.
nainam chindanti sastrani