Let me start with a short word association game. What is the first word that comes to mind when I say ‘Mehendi’? For the unfamiliar, Mehendi =Henna.
I would love to hear from you and see if we managed to recall the same word! ‘Mehendi’ to me represents a joyous occasion and to read a book about this wonderful component of Indian culture whether actual or symbolic was comforting.
‘These Lines of Mehendi’ is the first of two novellas from ‘Love, Again’, the other being ‘A Tulip In The Desert’ by Shruti P.C. I came across Sumeetha Manikandan’s profile on Goodreads and was suitably impressed by her keen interest in Indian fiction and her dedication to promote not just her own work but also the work of other Indian authors. So it goes without saying that I was pleased to receive her novella for review.
I have always been inspired by strong women protagonists in literature and to see one such character in Sumeetha Manikandan’s novella, ‘These Lines of Mehendi’ was a pleasant surprise. I say ‘surprise’ because to create an impactful character in a novella is not an easy feat and Manikandan has done a wonderful job!
The novella is a story about Lalita who is widowed at a young age following a distressful marriage. You are then led through Lalita’s journey from a dedicated employee in a women’s beauty salon to a fierce entrepreneur. A certain other character has a big role to play in this transformation. Is it a well meaning relative, a certain young man or both? Oh well, it is a novella so I really cannot give much away about the plot itself.
Manikandan’s style of narration is very down to earth and this reflects beautifully in the scenes that are played out during the course of the novella e.g. Lalita rushing home from work to cook a meal for someone special. A myriad of emotions are conveyed through this simple act and similar such incidences are easily observable in different parts of the story. The perception of widows in today’s so called ‘modern’ Indian societies was disheartening and further shed light on the continued power of patriarchy.
If you have been following my blog, you may have gathered that I am a stickler for themes. So I will leave you here and hope that you enjoy this heart- warming novella.