Friday, August 17, 2012

Guest Review: The Purple Line

Two new reviewers have joined our book review programme! The Book Lovers welcomes Reshmy Pillai and Pooja Dave to the book lovers gang! 

Author: Priyamvada N. Purushotham
Reviewed by: Pooja Dave


Rating: 9/10

Priyamvada’s debut novel, The Purple Line, delves into womanhood and explores the significance& intricacies revolving around the elusive “Purple Line” that symbolises Pregnancy....

It’s the era of Star Wars & Tennessee Williams & the place is Madras - 1982 (before it morphed into Chennai), where Mrinalini, a typical teenager, is besotted by poetry & finds solace in the literary world. She breezes past from one vocation to another like a running train as her heart makes journey stops on each. But then puberty hits & the hormonal changes conduced by her pubescence bestir her dormant Tam Brahm genes & in a moment of epiphany, she finally realizes that she wants to be a gynaecologist...Mrinalini then sets on a journey that makes her laugh, cry & teaches her the true meaning of womanhood...

Fast forward to the year 2000, where Mrinalini is now a Gynaecologist with a Masters from London. She returns back to Chennai to set up a clinic in her ancestral home...As a gynaecologist, Mrinalini encounters motley of characters in her patients everyday but six of Mrinalini’s patients instantaneously strike the chord. This is Mrinalini’s story & the story of these six women whose lives are unknowingly linked together like fibres braided in a rope..

First there is Zubeida, a typical burqa clad muslim woman, whose entire existence engulfs everything that encompasses womanhood. Zubeida has four boys & yet she yearns for a girl because she firmly believes that only a girl will be the absolute redemption of her motherhood. Zubeida wants to be that ideal mother for her daughter, a mother that she never had & always craved for. She finds solace in watching movies with her neighbour while pining for a girl but then one incident changes her entire way of existence..

Then there is Megha, wed in a heavily patriarchal Marwadi family where having a son is a quintessential status quo.. Needless to say Megha desperately wants a boy, a boy who will lift her entire state of beingness to a higher stratum.. For Megha, a mother of three daughters, delivering a boy to the family is her only way of achieving salvation but then it she realises that it takes a one broken heart to heal another...

Leela is like a Shakespearean sonnet, who is unblemished & always so perfect that wherever she goes she leaves behind a trail of immaculateness. On an first impression to any outsider, like Mrinalini - Leela’s world would seem picture perfect like those in fairy tales but as you move closer, you would see the cracks in the otherwise impeccable wall...But Leela never let the cracks run deeper & in her quest she never experimented, nor explored and never fell down to fit the pieces of herself back together...

Pooja, the 16 year old falls in love and slides headlong into the tunnel of a painful loneliness. She is bowled over by the Cricket Captain of her school team and ends up being pregnant. She comes to the clinic to abort the child but as she does so she learns to embrace a brave new world...

Tulsi, an art director, has been trying to make a kid with her husband Dhruv for 3 years but without any results. She follows her ovulation cycles meticulously but as she goes on & on the method loses its rhythm and the passion seems to seep out from her unfertile efforts. Tulsi is an artist waiting in the wings and ultimately a time comes when she realises what she truly wants & what she can have.

Anjolie is a performance artist who has the capability to breathe life even into a sleepy consultation room by her mere presence. She is a fading artist who has mastered her emotions & conquered her fears but when her time comes she must know that it takes two sounds to make a heartbeat...

This is a beautifully crafted tale that explores the various convolutions of a female mind and reveals the vulnerability of women along with their dreams. The plot narrates seven different stories including Mrinalini’s own tangled tale of love but they flow seamlessly into one another be it  Zubeida’s tale ending on a delicious note or Megha’s desperation for her own selfish interests or the abrupt ending of Leela’s tale. The writing is sensous, vibrant & audacious but not brassy. The Another high point is the aesthetic way in which the author has highlighted realistic stories like teen pregnancy or the unwantedness of a girl child... A must read for every woman!!

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