Writing Style: 4/5
Entertainment Quotient: 4/5
Immaculate and moving, the book is a collection of short stories or character portrayals of Indian characters (mostly women) from different time frames. These character sketches are shown to face certain difficult situations and learn tough lessons through their varied experiences. In their experiences, are moral lessons for the readers to contemplate and understand life. As with parables, these stories exude richness of moral taste along with bittersweet epiphanies that drive the characters to certain ends and will leave readers overwhelmed.
“Dhi’s Parables Of Divine Transformation” opens with the story of Bhagyalakshmi (daughter of fate) in 1934 in the backdrop of Adolf Hitler declaring himself Fuhrer while India is still struggling to become an independent country. Regardless of all the socio-political happenings, 16-year-old Bhagyalakshmi is only concerned about her 5-year-old sister, Bhanumati who makes slippers out of leaves to protect her feet from burning during playtime.
Their father, Raj Dev Pandit, is down with tuberculosis and their mother Prabha Devi is single-handedly bringing up seven children working as an insurance agent. Yet, what marks them apart from others is their ancestral haveli. Though deceiving of their circumstances, it is all they had to remind them of their stature and grandeur of previous generations. However, things take a sudden turn when Vijay Singh, a client of Prabha Devi, comes for a visit and is taken aback by the beautiful Bhagyalakshmi. His wives have been unable to conceive a child and Bhagyalakshmi’s glow makes him want her hand in marriage. To her mother’s hesitation and sorrow, Bhagyalakshmi agrees to the marriage with the thought of all the amenities it will provide her family. Much like her name, she becomes the means to social upliftment for her family.
This marriage of alliance with Vijay Singh taking up the responsibility of all her siblings makes Bhagyalakshmi sacrifice her wishes and move to Delhi. The protagonist Bhagyalakshmi’s character is drawn elaborately as a prudish shrew. She is shown to balance the role of malkin in the new household while being one amongst other wives of Vijay Singh. He, on the other hand, discovers new facets of his newly wedded wife every day and is smitten by the charm with which she supervises the household chores and plays mother to her siblings.
She also has a sharp tongue and is witty. Her defenses are equally offensive to others but she has no ill intentions as her tongue spares no one, not even her siblings if they are caught of wrongdoing. The story is all about history repeating itself, sibling rivalry, and how time does not heal everything, no matter how much relief and healing are wished for. Moreover, it teaches important lessons about anger and the ill effects of sharpness of tongue. This is one of the best stories of the collection.
Next, comes the story Seerat set in Delhi somewhere close to the present day. It is about Seerat’s relationship with Jai. The story opens with her and her group of friends discussing love and life which forms a prelude to the character. Seerat and Jai are to be married but they have a fight before the wedding and despite Seerat’s attempts at reconciliation, Jai remains firmly angry. But the real blow comes when Jai’s Roka ceremony is to be followed by marriage to someone else.
This story too revolves around how relations fall apart, friendships turn sour, and how similar faces are reflected in different people, and life provides hope in the darkest corners. This is followed by the story of Sneh, the wise woman of Samnagar.
Amita and Adil is another story that is written in the form of dialogue exchanges between two depressive maniacs trying to make important life decisions. This is just one instance of the experimental streak of the narrative. Other stories include Kapil, Meeta, Kriti, Vibha, Naintara, Rohan Sarna, Akhil, and so on. Not all stories are of the same length but they all deal with themes of fate, destiny, freedom of choice, free will, and sound judgment. Life revolves around these and these stories mirror life.
The plots keep readers on the edge and keeps them asking for more. It is this suspense that adds to the thrill of the narrative with a lot of feminist leanings. There are subheadings throughout chapters that ease the reading process and help in keeping track of the progress of the plot. They also serve as bookmarks and one may easily pick up from where they had left. The plot flows in a chronological sequence though there are time lapses in terms of quick jumps into events. That does not mean there is haste in the storytelling process.
All the stories begin with a portrait of the character around whom the story revolves. The manner of narrative evolution is similar to a dramatic performance that enriches while evoking several passions in the text and their respective inherent emotions in the reader. This makes “Dhi’s Parables Of Divine Transformation” a contemporary classic.
The language of “Dhi’s Parables Of Divine Transformation” is easy to follow. The writing style is neither dense and clearly not flimsy. The sentences are structured such that they are of moderate length and make for an engaging read. Poignant and suave, the entire text is much akin to the performance of several episodic incidents. These are marked by twists and turns that allow for ample play of language. Such language makes the text visually enticing and makes the scenes come alive. Indian English is rich in tone and texture with a few colloquialisms in Hindi thrown in for flavor.
The book is worth reading word by word, page by page and definitely more than once. It is a must-read for everyone in general for its clever use of climaxes and gripping plots. However, it will be thoroughly enjoyed by those who like reading short pieces, plots with multiple climaxes with a lot of women-centric themes, plots about love, loss and life, tales with moral leanings or simply stories with such complex build up and endings that leave readers amazed
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