Book title – Not so grave – commentary from beyond
Publisher – Kindle Pages – 76 pages Language – English
Author – Dr Aparna Salvi Nagda
Available on – https://www.amazon.in/Not-So-Grave-Commentary-beyond-ebook/dp/B0BDYS6RKP/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2KQ0NI29QZ6LA&keywords=aparna+salvi+nagda&qid=1674214478&sprefix=aparna+salvi+nagda%2Caps%2C255&sr=8-1
Excerpt from amazon- Robinhood Singh is dead. Yet, he speaks, that too endlessly. He narrates the story of his family, who is coping with the loss of his sudden death. While commenting on the goings and comings, his judgemental side peeks out in certain places, and his jocular nature in all!
Realizations come to him in small pockets and Robinhood (or Robu) is generous enough to share them with the reader. He is amused to learn the several secrets his mother holds close to her heart and is saddened to discover how his wife, Pushpakala, has masked her unhappiness for years, under her beautiful and serene smile. Robinhood grapples with shock of being unable to hug his daughter Dimple as the scenes of his tormented family struggling to adjust to his absence bombard him.
He boasts of the great camaraderie between his mother and wife. But will this relationship stand strong when Pushpakala is being pursued by her young student, Jugal? Will the broad-minded mother-in-law continue to vouch for her daughter-in-law when she learns of the growing friendship between Pushpakala and Jugal?
Finally, when Pushpakala fights for defending her chaste relationship with Jugal, she encounters the harsh reality of Jugal’s past linked to her husband’s death.
Can she forgive him?
Not So Grave is a novella about viewing death in a hilarious light. It’s ultimately about not being grave but brave when the time comes.
Review – ‘Not so grave’, as the title suggests is a laughter riot. Set in Delhi, the book chronicles the life (Umm…maybe I should say afterlife) of Robinhood Singh aka Robu, after his death.
Dr Aparna Salvi Nagda is a Mumbai based Homeopathic Consultant who writes with as much skill as she prescribes. For a West Indian to write about the intricacies of familial relationships and characters in North India is a mean feat. The cultural differences, the language, the slangs, those quirky little expressions that are so intrinsic to North Indian culture – have all been captured by Dr Aparna in her narrative. That’s what makes the book so great.
The concept of the book is hilarious, endearing and splendidly engaging – all at the same time. This is a book that is suitable for all reading ages and is littered with some absolutely smashing quips by Robu, such as
… ‘Death makes you wise in hindsight’
‘Maybe dying is not so bad, you should try it once’ … hilarious, right?
Coming to the story – this book explores the life of a typical North Indian family in the wake of a death. What I truly liked is how Dr Aparna has chosen to portray and challenge prejudices, societal taboos, and preconceptions and has woven them seamlessly into the narrative. She has chosen to pick and showcase a lot of societal pressures that weight down a person.
Apart from Robu, the other characters in the book are apt and required. I particularly liked the character of Beeji, who is totally unorthodox and Pushpkala who is the orthodox, South-Indian widow. From the widow lighting the pyre to encouraging her daughter in law to live her life on her own terms (after being widowed); Beeji emerges as a strong iron-woman with a no-nonsense and shrewd attitude towards life. The matriarch’s character is the glue that holds this story together.
The language of the book is disarmingly simple and crisp and is strewn with metaphors and analogies that carry a distinctly north-Indian flavour (in keeping with the setting of the book). The doses of hilarity, injected at the right moments help to keep this book a light, breezy read even though the topic of death, grief and acceptance has been explored gravelly.
I would be remiss if I did not mention that there are places in the book where the author’s unfamiliarity with Delhi makes an appearance (I did mention that she is not a native and she did a commendable job of researching the city)- ‘It’s Pushpakala’s birthday, Delhi is foggy and rainy in June’ – The Delhi summers are quite harsh and Delhi is mostly smoggy in June. It’s foggy (what we call ‘kohra’) in the winter months. However, I make a mention of this here because even though there are some places where such details have escaped the author, they are errors that are noticeable only to someone who was raised in Delhi. The racy narration of the book, the complexities of the life after a loved one’s death, etc have been so wonderfully explored that such teeny misses go unnoticed. And, they do not detract from the fast-paced flow of the book.
I found the first half of the book to be crisper than the latter and I genuinely feel that this book can be extended to the level of a full novel.
If you are looking for a dose of hilarity, an injection of levity or a prescription to a droll weekend – I highly recommend that you pick this novella up. You will not be disappointed.