In this autobiographical fiction, Amrita, stifled within the confines of her invisible cage, unfolds her life story. As her father's chattel, a self-sacrificing wife to the man of her parents' choice, a caring mother to her children, Amrita loses her identity. To assuage the thirst of her parched soul, she gives in to the passionate advances of an unsuitable lover who entices her into a web of lies and deceit. Unable to bear the pressures of an incompatible marriage and a destructive attachment any longer, she breaks free and flees to the Himalayas. In those lofty reaches she finds a startlingly simple solution to her problems—she has to look inwards for the peace that evaded her; no one else could give her that. Released of the disappointment and humiliation that 'love' had spawned, her spirits soar like a bunch of helium balloons—wind-buoyed dancing specks of colour in vast open skies.
Though the narrator-protagonist finds 'neither sympathy nor understanding' from the men in her life, with her excellent command over the English language and an innate sense of humour, the author ensures that Amrita finds compassion in the hearts of her readers.
Amrinder Bajaj is a practising gynecologist and the head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at MAX Multi Speciality Centre, Pitampura, Delhi. Writing is her passion and her published works include two wellness books, a novel based on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, a text book for nurses, a collection of poems, a joke book, and a memoir based on her association with the noted Indian author and columnist, Khushwant Singh. She has two columns in the magazine Woman's Era. She also regularly writes articles, travelogues, short stories and poems for magazines and newspapers like The Times of India, Tribune and The Indian Express.
Biographies of great men make worthy reads, but lives of people like you and me are what stories are made of. We are the unsung heroes whose silent struggles, failures and victories remain buried under the mundane. By sharing one such story, I want to reach out to my fellow travellers on the path of life, struggling with its travails, and let them know that each of us carry our private hell within us. How we deal with it not only determines our present and future, but also colours our memories that can either embitter or empower us.
What the protagonist did may not be sanctioned by society or religion, but to her, living a lie was the worst of all sins. She dared to live life on her own terms and if things went horribly awry, unflinchingly she paid the price. Given a second chance to life, she would not have done anything differently, except for one major act of submission. Only if she had defied her parents to follow her heart! That one major 'if' still haunts her.
The battle within was over. The fire had burnt down, the ash swept out, leaving behind an empty hearth and heart. For one who believed that to feel was to live, this was akin to death, but it mattered no more. Every single person who had been allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum had violated it. Barred and bolted now, the `I' within had become inviolate. Freed of the shackles of hope and expectations, resentment and rancour, desire and disappointments, she felt cleansed; cleansed of love and the hate that love bred over and over again. It would be a joyless existence, but her priorities had changed. No longer did she crave happiness. A healing nothingness, a welcome void was what she wanted at this point of time and for that she would have to look inwards. No one else could give her that.
I am done with sighs and anguished cries,
With love and longing, lust and lies,
After elusive shadows, long I ran,
Will I crave the love of a man.
From now on it's just my dog and me
And a book beneath a shady tree.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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