Book: Fate, Fraud And A Friday Wedding
Author: Bhavna Rai
Number of pages: 288
Price: Rs. 150
Fate, Fraud And A Friday Wedding by Bhavna Rai is a contemporary novel, tracing the journeys of a few individuals and how their lives intersect at an extravagant Friday night wedding at one of the glitziest venues in Delhi. The novel is largely based in Delhi, except for the occasional shifts to the US and back. Rai weaves in a strong element of fate in each character’s life, often making you wonder, what if something had happened otherwise. Would their lives still have intertwined? The narrative also reflects undercurrents of a fraud, in both monetary and non-monetary terms.
I liked the line on the second page of the book, before the acknowledgments, “To all those whose lives did not turn out as planned… and all those who were unlucky enough that it did.” Fate, setting the tone of things to come.
The book is set against the backdrop of the relatively nascent IT industry in India, where aggressive growth targets and billion dollar revenues go hand in hand with the dark underbelly of Internet fraud and manipulated stock prices. It opens with a young call center executive getting shot by a drunken ex-boyfriend. “The world was spinning around her. There must have been hundreds of people at the wedding, but there was no one next to her.” (Page 9)
There is Tara Mehra who vehemently denies that there is place for a man in her life. Anand runs a successful technology start-up in the US and is happily married, but something about him doesn’t quite fit. He is restless and edgy, in search of something. A tough character to comprehend. Neel returns to India to be with his ageing parents, with an American fiancé in tow. Jenna decides to move to Delhi to be closer to Neel. Out of all the characters in the book, I sympathize with her the most.
Tara and Anand share a past. Is Neel her future? And how do his parents react to the thought of a foreign bahu? Why is Anand not at ease? The answers to these questions lie in each of their intertwined fates, with multiple, overlapping sub-plots in action, alternating between the past and the present. But I wish that Rai had made some distinction, like at least a page break of sorts, while shifting narratives between her characters, especially since she relies on beginning her sentences in third person.
The editing could have been crisper in a few places; I was tempted to rewrite a few passages and correct a few clumsy grammatical errors. But there are flashes of brilliance. I liked how Rai tied up the loose ends. How a stray sentence in her narrative linked to either the past or the present to form a whole incident. She did that in the instance of the call center executive and between Neel and Tara. I went back to reread those portions and they fit beautifully.
I also liked how Rai painted the emotional and tender scenes between couples; the imagery of the soothing words, the building up to the crescendo and the eventual heartbreak, in some instances. Conversations and human interactions are her strong points. I also get the feeling that she enjoyed writing these bits the most.
Read Fate, Fraud And A Friday Wedding for Rai’s rich descriptions about living in Delhi and an insight into corporate, professional relationships. It is a story of ordinary individuals and the intersection of their triumphs, successes, failures and perhaps, regrets.
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