Tuesday, 8 May 2018

To Hell and Back - Book Review

Anurag Anand's To Hell and Back comes with a tag-line Not all Tragedies are Orchestrated by Fate. The book opens with Namrata and Akash taking the road. A white SUV blocks their road. Its occupants kill Akash, leaving Namrata untouched. Akash was a cofounder of a start up and his death caused by a road rage makes newspaper headlines. Was it really a tragedy or something sinister. After all not all tragedies are orchestrated by fate.

Anurag crafts two women characters whose lives are poles apart. Namrata is a young, independent woman who can even walk out of a marriage when she finds it is not working. Renu on the other hand is a demure housewife living in a village with outdated code of conduct for women. Girl child needless to say is unwelcome there. Yet she tries to catch the scratches of happiness that come her way. Describing her thought process the author says, 'But then each moment of victory deserved to be savoured, untouched by the fears and uncertainties of tomorrow, and this Renu had learnt to do very well.'

Describing the unhappy marital status of Namrata, the author says 'It is relationships are like rubber bands. Each time they are stretched beyond their acceptable boundaries, the boundaries redefine themselves to accommodate the breach. And just like a rubber band doesn't need much to be stretched to lengths it has previously withstood, the degree of incivility a relationship can take is also defined by what it has been through previously. Once you disrespect your partner in a particular way, the next time you will probably end up doing the same, in a greater magnitude, and possibly on a much feebler pretext, once you begin flinging cuss words at each other, the abusing becomes a veritable constituent of your relationship. Until the relationship, just like the rubber band, can bear no more and snaps.' What an astute observation of marital relationships.

And then their lives intersect for the good. The story takes a very different turn from here. Though the author has woven believable characters, I felt that Namrata overcame the agony of gang rape too soon. Also Akash's past deserved a little more mention. Yet To Hell and Back is lucid and holds promise for sure. Do read this book.

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