Monday, May 5, 2014

Crossroads... It's about time - Book Review

Crossroads… It’s about time
By Preeti Singh
Review By Ila Garg

Crossroads… It’s about time is a novel by the authoress Preeti Singh, earlier known for her debut book Flirting with Fate. The book is decorated in the form of a very beautiful cover page. Two railway tracks (representing the crossroads), one bench (where the whole story plays around in a flashback, you will know the significance of this bench once you read the book), a clock (representing the time obviously), the helpless pair of eyes, and the red distorted bindi (you will understand the significance later as you read on the book). Indeed, a captivating cover! The concept of cover itself is so compelling that one would pick up the book. The title is tempting too.

Preeti Singh, is an award-winning author based at Panchkula, Chandigarh. She is qualified with an MA (Eng.), PGJMC (Journalism and Mass comm.) and a B.Ed. degree along with being an army wife and a school teacher for 14 years. Writing being her inherent passion, she believes in expressing her life’s experiences through words. Believing in living for now, she lives her life to the fullest, with a motto that, we reap what we sow; it was also the central theme of her exciting, debut thriller, Flirting with Fate.

The blurb of Crossroads… It’s about time, reads as, ‘In the journey of life we see dreams, we fall in love, we experience bliss but yet we often fall, never to rise again.

But Kavita is a fighter.

From marrying the man she loves, to becoming a protective mother, to tolerating abuse and emerging stronger from it, Kavita’s life is not different from just another Indian woman.

Till how long can she take the domestic violence and humiliation? Does Kavita leave her abusive husband Rajiv, in search of greener pastures with Mihir or does she succumb to a passionate moment with a youngster, Abhinash?

Don’t we all have a right to make our identity, alone, or is marriage the only bond where one must adjust to find happiness?

Is Kavita doing wrong by following her heart? If it takes two to tango, where did she go wrong? Can she unpeel the child in her, defy the world and live life on her own terms? Or does life give her a chance to make amends and save her precious bonds?

She is standing at a crossroads of her life and wondering which path should she follow to get some peace, something we all are seeking. Why don’t YOU, my reader hold her hand and guide her?

It’s about time.

Initial impressions of the book from the title, cover, and the blurb - It’s gonna be yet another marriage story – a typical Indian wife dedicated to her nonchalant husband, a daughter who suffers due to the everlasting fights between her parents, etc. And yes it is a story of a failed marriage (no doubt), but it is tackled quite intelligently giving a totally different flavor to it.

This is the story of Kavita Singh, an epileptic married to Rajiv Arora. Kavita being an epileptic since birth, was used to living life full of precautions which included not driving. Both Kavita and Rajiv meet on a train and fall for each other. Rajiv decides to marry her against the will of his dominating sister, Anu.

Both of them come from a varied background; had a different nurturing, have different desires and longings, different priorities, and of course totally different sets of ideologies. While Kavita is more of a dreamer and devoting lover, Rajiv is practical and considers his sister above all. While Kavita is so blindly in love that she sees only Rajiv, he seems to see everyone except her.  

The novel further questions the Indian men mentality; Rajiv can have one-night stands and affairs in absence of Kavita, but if Kavita does the same, it is unforgivable and a taboo. A man can dump her wife but if a wife leaves her husband’s home then he feels insulted and can do anything to get her back, even if he lets his sister treat his wife like a ‘glorified maid’.

As simple as it seems, the story doesn’t go straight. The book juggles between past and present; sometimes coming to the present and then a long flashback into the past. It begins with Kavita driving (which she did rarely) to pick her daughter from the station. There she has to wait for prolonged hours on a bench, and sitting there she keeps reminiscing her past. Her tale comes in front of the readers through nostalgia, and takes them into her past gradually. From there, she keeps coming back to the present every now and then.

This story is about how your decisions effect your life in the long run, especially the decisions taken in a haste. It is about being strong even when your decisions fail you sometimes. Well it is about finding your ‘home’, a place that is not merely a house, and that requires some struggles because it’s worth it. “Kavita had chosen the path to live her life with dignity, alone but blissful. She had left the crossroads behind and began walking home, where her happiness and peace dwelled with her.”

Further, the authoress has described the night Kavita discovered what ‘making love’ is with a lot of panache. It nowhere seems undignified because of her flair of narrating that moment well. “She had always experienced ‘sex’ with Rajiv but today she understood the meaning of ‘making love’ with Abhi.”

The best part of the book was the conversations between Twitter, the parrot and Amber, the dog. They are well personified in the book and given some hilarious dialogues. They are later joined by Sunoji, that’s how Twitter calls her beau, the crow and Amberina, Amber’s girlfriend, the bitch. They together manage to form ‘a zoo’ for Kavita and keep her occupied. Also, they add lightness to the otherwise sombre novel.

Quoting lines from the book - “Twitter, Amber and Amberina, her loving mute companions, were waiting for her. They never asked her anything as they always understood and accepted her as she was. What more could she want?”

The 264 page book is undoubtedly appealing. The book has sheer realism which is the USP according to me. The narrative skills of the authoress are indeed commendable. It is an utterly transfixing roller coaster of emotions. The language and pace is comfortable for all the readers.

The too many dilemmas of Kavita’s life is just one of the reasons you want to keep turning the pages to find out what happens in Crossroads… It’s about time. It is not every day that you encounter a talking parrot (Twitter) and a dog like Amber.

To find out whether Kavita and Rajiv could make their marriage work or not, what is their future, whether Kavita chooses to follow her dreams in spite of the hurdles or resolve to give up and go by the destiny’s decision, how does being a single mother affect Kavita, how she avoids Ranvijay’s attraction towards her, how Kavita faces the failed marriage and loneliness of her life, how she feels a sudden comfort in arms of Mihir (her husband’s best friend), how she reacts to the closeness with him, where is she led by the physical intimacy with Abhinash, who she chooses in the end at the crossroads: Rajiv or Mihir; you will have to read the novel, Crossroads… It’s about time.

'Yay' Factors: Twitter, Amber, Sunoji, and Amberina :)

'Nay' Factors: Few editing errors.

Message for readers: "Once in a while, we all find ourselves standing at the crossroads, just like the protagonist, Kavita Singh. What we do at that point, which path wie take, determine not only what kind of a person we are but also the course of our life thereafter. So, remember to make a wise decision at the crossroads. It’s about time."

Rating: 4.25/5

Buying Links: Flipkart | Amazon | Infibeam | GetSignedBooks | Authorpress

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