Review of ‘A Window to Her Dreams’ a novel by Harshali Singh
“A story that has been narrated by an old mansion, which stands witness of all the pangs, ethos, guffaws and the bonhomie of the family that has sustained there for long’...
The story begins with a prologue which is of course narrated by the 150 years old Haveli situated in an old colony of Naugraha in Old Delhi and we get to witness a big Sharma family the inmates of the Haveli who loves it as much it does them back. They even fought a battle to win it back from being taken away from them. The Haveli narrates each character particularly of the family members that live in it, like the parents Arun and Uma the main pillars of the Sharma family, and their seven children, Aurna, Bhavya, Charu, Dheeraj, Etti, Fanny and Gina the triplets in a much comprehensive manner and we get to see the varied emotions, their feelings, fears and the bond that they share with each other through the eyes of this old sentinel.
The walls hear it all, the guffaws, unlimited discussions of its members, often absorbing the tears often, but yet it has stood strong because of the strength that it gets from its mistress Uma, who even though has a polio in one of her limb, yet has been the major reason for winning the Haveli back from her notorious brother-in-law. But this story is not about her, it’s about Aruna the eldest daughter of Uma and Arun and her biased life.
Aruna the submissive, the delicate and the fragile one, has not been left alone in her battle of life, is one of the major aspect shown in the book. Her family stands behind her rock solid and supports her decision to marry again after suffering a broken marriage with her first lover Rafi. She was left not more than a carcass after having faced physical and mental abuse both in her first marriage. She most often is found lost into her own world of grief, regret and fear for an uncertain future behind that blue window out of which she sees the world moving slowly and finds some time of solace out of her otherwise chaotic world.
However she soon finds the answer to her dismayed life in the arms of Bhuvan her college mate who had always admired the beautiful Aruna and immediately agrees to marry him. But after being left all tormented from her first marriage she takes a lot of time to build trust over Bhuvan. Thus the author has brought forth the major few issues through this novel, first one is a psychological turmoil that the heroine can be seen suffering inside her head and her silent efforts to overcome it, which not only affects her present relationship with Bhuvan but also brings her to the point of fear where she feels she is losing him too.
This indeed is a serious issue in our country as myriad women who often go through this, violence in marriage which not only leave their souls much scarred to recover and but makes it difficult to build that trust over men again that stands as the most challenging factor. Arun shown to be going through both builds a wall which was quite difficult for Bhuvan to break but again with the support of Aruna’s family particularly her similar aged sisters who constantly support her showing that they want her best, she is able to forge ahead and see the real Bhuvan. This is the most important thing that the author has portrayed, the beautiful positivity and wall of love and protectiveness that they build around her, gives Aruna the strength to endure. The most powerful message conveyed of showing the after maths of how a woman feels pressurized due to the societal pressures of being a divorced woman. Aruna too going through such pressure of being judged and questioned readily accepts Bhuvan’s marriage proposal, not only to free her from such tags but also to make her family feel secure for her.
Afterwards whether she is able to come out of it, her past trauma and her insecurities in her second marriage is for you to read and find out. The author however has done a commendable job in expressing the human relations in a very precise and meticulous way. Much like an onion she has slowly peeled each layer of relationship and the more we read the more we feel to keep enjoying the book slowly witnessing the warm love getting culminated in the hearts of the major characters in the book. The author’s choice of diction and the play with language is haunting; it will stay with you for long even after finishing the book.
Some mystery remains wrapped: One is that what lies behind those 100 doors of that old Haveli. And what is the secret that lies into that chest that is resting behind that particular door which Uma keeps locked. But then again this was the first book of the Haveli series, to know more I guess we have to read the next one.
A big melodramatic house full of life: The most enjoyable part in the book is the description of the members of the Haveli. At places the book seemed like a Hindi movie in which you are witnessing a family that eats, laughs and cries together. The unity lies in their being so different from each other, like somewhere the ego of a father who communicates less with his children but loves them the most, to the most energetic mother whose presence in the house is like that binding vine who has kept this big family safe together under one roof.
The most enthralling element: What I found quite enthralling is the mention of the beverage that never stops to flow from the Haveli, and that is Uma’s made cup of tea. It was found out by another character Gaurav in the story that has a brief role while he comes to stay with the family and stays with them as their tenant. I quite found this tea element in the story to be resonating, that amid the bedlam, or the laughter, through the tensions, or anything that needed some time of contemplation tea was always their saviour, as much it so happens in most houses of India.
Chrysanthemum Chronicles' Verdict: This book starts slow with the introduction of varied characters in the story, but takes a gripping turn when Aruna and Bhuvan get married. It has to be admitted that making so many characters, think, talk, behave as their lives are being portrayed mainly to be revolving around Aruna, the protagonist of the story, to pull up the things and bringing them all together under one roof of narration, the author has done a commendable job. Her language is lucid and with fine imagery she has brought many episodes alive in front of the eyes. Thus, to know the narration through the mouth of the Haveli and about many other things happening in the story, do grab this book and read it. I would recommend this book to all the adult young readers and with a 4.5 star rating I must admit it’s a good book to read this winter.
Review By: Monalisa Joshi
Dr. Harshali Singh is a New Delhi based Member of the Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum- BYPL, a former member at the Consumer District Redressal Forum, an Author, a Poet, an academician, a teacher trainer, an Occupational Therapist, an avid reader and a passionate Painter.
She has written in several literary genres ranging from poetry to fiction, columns to essays. She is the contributing author in several anthologies and regularly writes for e magazines.
Her Novels ‘A Window to her Dreams’, and the recently launched ‘The Anatomy of Choice’ form part of nine books series comprising the ‘Haveli Series’. Her poems are part of a woman centric bilingual anthology of poems called ‘She The Shakti’.
She has won the prestigious ‘Write India- Season 2’, a short story Contest organized by ‘The Times of India’ Group on Chitra Banerjee Divakaurni’s prompt. The Times Group has recently launched the book at the Times Lit Fest in Delhi and Bangalore amid much fanfare. She has also chaired discussions with eminent personalities in their chosen fields of World Peace, Meditation, Infertility and Social Causes and stalwarts in the field of Writing.