28 Years A Bachelor, penned by Rasana Atreya, is a simple and a slightly funny tale set
around a small village called Lingampally in Andhra Pradesh. Although the cover indicates that it might be the story of a 28 year old woman who’s looking for a groom, quite contrary to that, the protagonist of the story happens to be a sensible man, Madhav, who lives in the city Hyderabad.
Madhav is well educated, has a job that pays well, lives with his parents, sister is happily married, owns a vehicle and a house, yet is unsatisfied with his life. He can cope with the hustle-bustle and stress of the city life, but he longs for the peace and serenity of the village life and longs to live with his grand-parents.
He is torn between his duty towards his parents – to provide them with a happy life in their old age and be their support – and his love for the peace of the village life.
There is Jaya, his sister, who is pregnant and has recently become a widow. While his parents say she ‘belongs’ to her parents-in-law and they have no say in her life anymore, he believes that it is better to bring her home and to rescue her from her tyrannical in-laws who want to disown her because she’s carrying a girl child.
Then there is Shyamala, the not-so-fair girl from the village, who has conquered his heart with her simplicity and selfless life.
And of course, there are his grand-parents who have been scheming to bring him to live in the village for ages now.
After enough contemplation (and manipulation by his grand-parents) one fine day, he quits his job and decides to move to the village and that’s when his relationship with his parents turns sour. While his father is relenting and understanding, it is his mother who is stubborn and doesn’t forgive him nor his grand-parents for apparently turning her only child against her.
The characters are very nicely etched and stress has been given on minute details and intricacies of the place where the story is set. For instance, in one scene, Shyamala looks down and is about to move away when Madhav enters the scene and says that people might think otherwise when Madhav asks for her hurried and sudden exit.
Although the protagonist of the novel is Madhav, there are various strong women characters surrounding him all through the story. His sister, Jaya, his mother, his love-interest and later wife, Shyamala and the strongest of them all, his grand-mother are some of those characters. The author has nicely and humorously portrayed how these strong women influence the lives of people around them.
Sometimes you do feel that the author is trying to introduce and explain all the Telugu customs, traditions and their way of celebrating various festivals through this novel. Otherwise, it is a clear picture of the present-day-India, where life is very different in cities and villages.
Rasana ruthlessly shows the plight of women even in modern and educated families and that more often than not, it is women only who are stubborn and want and give more preference to sons and ignore girls.
The novel shows the difference between the pace of life in city and a village. How the celebration of festivals, customs and traditions followed, environment, lifestyle, mindset, attitude etc., varies between cities and villages.
The novel makes you laugh, makes you cry, sometimes angers you, sometimes saddens you at the tragedy, sometimes just shows you the true and cruel picture of present day in most families. But most of all, it enlightens you and subtly provokes you to think rationally and question some customs and traditions that have long become obsolete and are past their expiry dates.
For someone who is interested in reading about different cultures, knowing about the true picture of life in most Hindu families today and who wants to know about village life, this is one of the better reads in the present times.
On the downside, it requires a little more proof-reading as there are a few, very few, typing errors and the novel is really long.
Overall, worth reading.
Connect with the author : Rasana Atreya