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Friday, July 29, 2011

Review: Dream's Sake by author Jyoti Arora

Dream’s Sake by author Jyoti Arora

Before I share the review, here’s a look at the first paragraph of the book:
‘’Terror does Diwali shopping in Delhi – killing 55, hurting 1555,’ the old newspaper clipping proclaimed as it trembled within her fingers.
Those weren’t just numbers, even if they had been correct. Those were people blown into bits. And people left behind to die in bits after them.
But Aashi had died quite enough. It was time to start living again.
She would have torn that paper and thrown it away. But her fingers didn’t obey. She wanted to erase its black words entirely from her memory. But she could not, not yet, anyway. For there was her father in that paper, one among the fifty five dead.
Aashi could not let go of the dead. But it was time now for her to start living again. She had already taken her first step back into life.’

As the story begins with a little background check on the protagonist Aashi, the opening lines hold promise. Aashi is a young woman with modern sensibilities, she lives in the Indian capital of Delhi, and she is a strong and ambitious woman, often shrewd and selfish. As the story progresses, we see that one thing our protagonist really believes in, is to use all and any means for your own success, ignoring the fact that it may hurt those near you, those you may love, and those who love you.

The story is about a young girl Aashi, who dreams of having her own clothes boutique someday, and to get there, she is ready to do anything, to ignore any advances of real love or feelings from her neighbor and friend Abhi, only because he is a handicap now, and this would not do good for her in the long run. She chooses to latch on to first one guy, since he is rich and will inherit a huge fortune from his father, and later, once she realizes this guy will clearly not give her the time of day, she moves on to another ‘friend’ in the group, a richer and more sophisticated guy named Raj. All in pursuit of her dreams of being rich and having an upscale life someday.

Aashi truly believes she has a right to fight for her dreams, that it is okay, and in fact, necessary, to survive in this tough, and often unfair, world. We can give her that much, many of us would really feel the same way, to be honest. So, our author had indeed done quite a real, if not goody-goody, portrayal of the main protagonist.

Now coming back to the other characters, namely Abhi, his sister Priyam, their friend Sid, and later another rival friend Raj – the characters have been portrayed well to begin with, but a few pages down, it all starts to become quite ‘made up.’

For starters, the two brothers and sisters have been ‘adopted’ by their friend Sid’s father, and have been given a home to live in on their own. That too when this friend has kind of disowned his father, due to suspicions of him being the reason for the suicide of his mother. Since he does not like his father and his super-huge house, he chooses to spend his time with his friends in their home, coming back from work every single day to have dinner together. The sister stays at home the whole day, looking after household chores and cooking for the ‘men’. Though the readers are informed that the brother and sisters have a deficit finance system, there was much this young girl could have achieved by going out and actually doing some work, at least that’s what young women do these days. But sadly, her character is only shown in the kitchen or the garden, giving shy and loving glances to Sid, for a love that is mutual.

The author is a self-proclaimed lover of English classics, and the same is evident in her work. But sadly, her interpretation of the same in an India-centric novel does not work at all. After the first few pages, the characters and the situations, all start to look too made-up. The language, which is in some parts, clearly an influence from the English classics, does not suit the tone of the book. For instance, here’s a look at two passages from the book:
1. “He was leaning against the basin with his long legs crossed in front of him and a cookie jar held securely in the crook of his arm. Half a specimen of its content was in his right hand and the other half was in the process of being chewed by his strong jaw.
The picture of a man eating direct from a cookie jar contrasted sharply with Aashi’s image of a dignified gentleman. But she wasn’t surprised. As far as Aashi knew, gentlemen had really become a very rare breed.”

2. “Minute after agonizing minute passed in cruel suspense as the three women waited. No word had they yet heard from either Raj or Sid. The unrelenting hands of clock slashed away their hopes as time crawled away on its course. Aashi would perhaps have ran away to carry out her own search. But her mother’s urgings and Priyam’s condition bound her feet.”

Author Jyoti Arora has a strong story to tell, but somehow, the final product seems to be disappointing, and a few pages down, the promise of the first few pages is lost.
The book is very poorly edited, with frequent grammatical mistakes, and this is clearly something that the publishers have looked over.
The book may not have exactly appealed to me, but I am sure there will be others who will find it interesting enough. Make your choice.
A good story from a debut author, and I really hope that the author takes this in the right spirit and takes it as constructive criticism. Also, it would do much good if the publishing house would care to re-print after carefully editing her work and give it the due it deserves…
Way to go Jyoti, and wish you luck…

About the book: (Paperback)
Title: Dream’s Sake
Author: Jyoti Arora
Publishers: V&S Publishers
No. of pages: 255

Personal verdict: Not my choice

- Debolina Raja Gupta