Love and betrayal in the Northeast, Himalayas and parent-child relationship (IANS Books This Weekend)

Read a haunting tale of love, friendship and betrayal of India in the context of its northeast region, flick through a tale of two cultures, of false assumptions, of courage in the face of disaster and of the gradual dawning of self awareness based in the Himalayas. Also, read a study of the parent-child relationship.

The IANS bookshelf offers varied fare this weekend.

1. Book: The Wrong Turn; Authors: Sanjay Chopra and Namita Roy Ghose; Publisher: Om; Pages: 488; Price: Rs 295

It was 1944 in Kohima, a small, sleepy town in northeast India. Subhas Chandra Bose and his Indian National Army (INA), along with the Japanese, were on the brink of bringing the Empire to its knees and forcing the British out of India. But, inexplicably, the tables turned. The INA’s advance was thwarted and the victory march to Delhi was halted. Seventy years later, the British admit that the Battle of Kohima was the greatest they had ever fought. Even more so than Waterloo and Dunkirk.

Was it then that old Indian curse of betrayal? Someone from within Netaji’s own ranks? Were there forces other than the British, waiting in the shadows closer to home, who stood to gain even more from the INA’s defeat? Or was it just love that irrevocably altered the course of India’s destiny?

“The Wrong Turn: Love and Betrayal in the Time of Netaji”, is a sweeping tale of passion set against the freedom struggle. Debraj, the rakish playboy and scion of a distinguished Calcutta family, and Nishonko, the fiery revolutionary sworn to the cause of the INA, must not only fight their common enemy, but also for the love of Aditi, the rebel with the healing touch.

A haunting tale of love, friendship and betrayal of an entire nation, “The Wrong Turn” veers inexorably towards a poignant redemption.

2. Book: Snowfed Waters; Author: Jane Wilson Howarth; Publisher: Speaking Tiger; Pages: 287; Price: Rs 399

“Snowfed Waters” is a dramatic and moving story set amongst the Himalayas. It is a tale of two cultures, of false assumptions, of courage in the face of disaster and of the gradual dawning of self-awareness.

Sonia Swayne’s life is in bits. With her self-esteem at rock bottom, she flees her old life to work for a charity in Nepal. Clumsily, Sonia tries to impose her own values on her unsophisticated hosts but the more she learns about their customs and their faith, the more she questions her own principles. She is particularly influenced by the spirituality and spontaneity of quiet teenage Moti. And then there is Rekraj, a sensitive young high-caste Nepali man.

Sonia basks in the warmth of his admiration without analysing her feelings too deeply: she simply enjoys being wanted again. There are clouds on the horizon though and there are ill omens: earth tremors. Lord Shiva is angry and Rekraj regrets his impure thoughts. The story reaches its climax when Sonia and Moti set out on a pilgrimage into the mountains. Can Sonia summon her old inner strength and revive her own self-respect?

3. Book: Always A Parent; Author: Gouri Dange; Publisher: Fingerprint; Pages: 192; Price: Rs 250

“Always a Parent” is quite literally an MRI scan of the parent-child relationship after the children are grown people, and possibly themselves parents. The author examines the inner workings and the push and pull of the Indian family.

Parents continue to be deeply invested in their children, well after they become adults. And children continue to draw strength from parents, even when their own world expands, way beyond the parental home.

The book takes a close look at how the bond can evolve into a completely new, and extremely enabling and life-affirming one, or can spiral into dysfunction and strife. With the use of real-life situations, “Always a Parent” delves into what can go wrong, as well as provides tools for preventive maintenance of this precious and demanding relationship that endures from the womb to the grave, and beyond.

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