What if the sought after dream fails to live up to its promise? What if
the choices one makes have rippling consequences with the potential for
disaster? Reshma Ruia explores these possibilities and so much more in
As an ambitious young man, PK starts off well. He builds Malik Textiles
from the scratch, earning headlines in the local newspaper as “new face of
immigration in England – an employer bringing jobs to deprived areas…”
But now at fifty five, the trend has changed. His business is struggling, his wife Geeta is homesick and their only son Amar is growing
distant with each day.
When PK meets Esther, he discovers solidarity, novelty and respite. The
affair is not ideal and there are complications. However trouble starts when
the thought of turning the fantasy into reality creeps in...
- The diasporic life is portrayed well in this novel and Ruia paints
a fairly authentic picture of the concept of the “open door” policy, the
position of close friends in many Asian families.
And where there are immigrants, the concept of identity and class come
into play too Ruia weaves these themes well in her character's lives. Geeta's disapproval of Amar's friend Alice or her preference for
an English doctor, act as the vehicle to highlight these prejudices and preconceptions.
PK and Geeta are not characters that the reader will immediately take
to. But they feel genuine. They may not get our love but they definitely win
our empathy. Geeta's overprotectiveness and eating habits work as a foil to
camouflage her homesickness. This character is representative of so many
Indian wives who tie their fates to their husband’s fortunes.
Esther on the other hand, is the wealthy socialite who seems quite the opposite
to Geeta, and yet interestingly, shares a similar dependence regarding her
social and financial status.
Ruia's USP is to create lifelike situations and make them glow
with meaning and insight. Her characters are ordinary middle aged people who
have dreamt and learnt to compromise with their lives.
Ruia doesn’t sugarcoat and therefore the air of doom as the story progresses. However, as the pace picks up
the reader feels invested in their lives and despite the element of
predictability, Ruia manages to surprise her readers with some deft handling of
Read it for its portrayal of contemporary Asian society. But read it if
you like well-etched flawed characters and wonder how they will fare in this story.
Still Lives is published by Renard Press and is out on June 29.
You can get your copy here.
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