Author: Aswiny Iyer Tiwari
Publisher: Rupa Publications
The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.
Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari is known for her blunt approach towards highlighting the flaws of the patriarchal society. Her motive, whether it is through films or words, has always been to encourage the self-empowerment of women so that they never have to undermine their self-respect or capabilities. Through her debut novel Mapping Love, she aces the test with a flowy narrative and emotionally palatable descriptions. While each element evokes a different sentiment, it is also the use of selective scenarios that help the readers in ‘mapping’ their understanding of the central character.
The story begins with the protagonist, Oorja, visiting India in order to close the doors that were left ajar by the people she loved the most. Through her narration, it doesn’t take much time for the readers to realize that she shared a loving bond with her deceased mother. It also becomes quite evident that her rapport with her father was not a good one. However, the recollection of her childhood memories elicits mixed emotions in the reader’s mind. There is an unfilled hollow that mysteriously keeps the reason for the rift under the wraps. The author tries really hard to bring forth the stern nature of Oorja’s father who is a stickler for the rules yet the rational build-up doesn’t quite match with the emotional reasoning. Deriving lessons from her mother’s experiences in the forest, Oorja embarks on a journey to map love, the love that sent her away from her roots and the love that brought her back to the same place! A piece of paper turns out to be the only key to the mystery of her father’s disappearance. While Oorja traverses from Banaras to other places in search of her lost past, she braces herself to face the storm that has long been silent.
Oorja’s courage resonates with her name. A victim of abuse and hatred, she rises like a phoenix. The process is not unreal, for it is slow and steady. Accepting her vulnerabilities and her flaws with maturity, she comes to grips with the truth about her father and her grandfather. Even though the characterization is smooth and palatable, the sequence of events is what put me in a fix. Sadly, I could spot a few errors in the editing too. Nevertheless, I must compliment the use of analogies that originate from the world of the ones who cannot communicate like us. It’s intriguing to read what we already know-how in the world of lions, the males help in bringing up the cub while the lioness goes out to hunt, how in the world of elephants, the responsibility is shared between the parents. Sadly, in the world of men, the responsibility is shoved onto the shoulders of the one who is hesitant (read scared) to take a stand.
Mapping Love is a delicious blend of emotions. The best feature is that it is fast-paced. Kudos to the author for her very first literary venture!
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