A Breath of Fresh Air - Amulya Malladi - AWESOME !!!

Its seriously been a long long time, since I've read good fiction, Indianwala... And Amulya Malladi does a fantastic job... Fantastic is an understatement...

I loved this book... !!! Right from the blurb till the last line... 'A breath of Fresh Air..'

What actually got me hooked was this blurb..



On the night of December 3, 1984, Anjali waits for her army officer husband to pick her up at the train station in Bhopal, India. In an instant, her world changes forever. Her anger at his being late turns to horror when a catastrophic gas leak poisons the city air. Anjali miraculously survives. Her marriage does not.

A smart, successful schoolteacher, Anjali is now remarried to Sandeep, a loving and stable professor. Their lives would be nearly perfect, if not for their young son's declining health. But when Anjali's first husband suddenly reappears in her life, she is thrown back to the troubling days of their marriage with a force that impacts everyone around her.

Rich in insight into Indian culture and psychology, A Breath of Fresh Air resonates with meaning and the abiding power of love. In a landscape as intriguing as it is unfamiliar, Anjali's struggles to reconcile the roles of wife and ex-wife, working woman and mother, illuminate both the fascinating duality of the modern Indian woman and the difficult choices all women must make.


If you ask me to summarise, Its the simple story of a girl transforming into a woman, a wife and a mother, all at her own pace and coming to terms with her fate and the reality. I loved the way the characters were framed. Each and every character was justified.No extra fittings. Just right. One of those rare cups of tea on rainy days that taste just right.

I loved Sandeep's character and of course, Anjali too. I truly despised Prakash's character. I could picturise the people in my minds. They were in fact easy to imagine !!! Just like people next door. Handling two sensitive issues, like the 1984 Riots and the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, requires a lot of skill, though personally I felt there was less of the Riots and more of tragedy.
My personal favorites are chapter 21 and 22. And of course the point where Sandeep says that he will accept any favor as long it saves his son. Awesome !!!

The narrative is simple and clean. No glitches. But sometimes the people are too nice. I sometimes wonder, if that is the case always. :) I actually feel ashamed that I am reading this after 8 years. Should have read this long ago. Am planning to do a back-to-back. Let me see, if time will permit me.. :) :D

I got a strange thought when I was reading this. This story had all that was required to be made into a movie, definitely a Tamizh movie. (We like sad stories.. :P) I was just thinking about the cast.

As Anjali - No doubt - Revathy. Nobody else can come close to her atleast for a mile.
As Sandeep -I would choose, Vikram. But am not sure if he would be willing to do it. :P
As Indira - Definitely Ramya Krishnan !!!
As Prakash - If he was alive, Raghuvaran. But since he is not, undoubtedly, Prakashraj.

Direction - Vasanth. I personally feel, he shows emotions better. It can be easily be taken as a two hour movie. With some really lilting background score. No songs please. There will be enough drama in the movie !!!


Here are 'some' of my favorite quotes.. :P

It was startling to know that the society I lived in was so fragile and my place in it was contingent on innumerable things.

“Before you say anything . . .”
I held up my hand as soon as Sandeep stepped into the kitchen.

“Prakash came to see you in school,” he supplied warmly, and kissed me just as warmly on the mouth.

“I didn’t invite him,” I told him belligerently.
“It wouldn’t matter even if you did,” he said, sitting down on the kitchen chair. “He is from your past and . . . you can’t just ignore how you feel about him.”
I flew into a rage.
“I feel nothing for him but distaste and I told him that. How dare you suggest—”
“I suggest nothing,” he interrupted smoothly, his eyes alight with amusement. “Why are you so defensive? He came to meet you. I don’t care, so why do you?”

Where was the romance I was promised in the Mills & Boon novels? I wanted an explanation!

“Or we could get married,” I blurted out. She looked like I had slammed a fist into her solar plexus

Again, I wondered about Prakash. Had he been this incandescently happy when he had married my Anjali?

This was not living—this was the purest kind of hell. My sick baby had to comfort me.

But in an arranged marriage where love is not important—it is actually a guarantee. The husband will love the wife in some shape or form and the wife will love her husband because he provides for her.

The hero was always cruel and insensitive to the heroine in the beginning, and in the end he was nice to her and in love with her. I had the cruel and insensitive hero; I was waiting for him to become nice and fall in love with me.

There was no traditional precedent regarding how to treat an ex-son-in-law

I loved her very much and I was afraid she didn’t love me as much. I had never thought that I was the kind of man who measured love.

She had lost her innocence and that angered me, not because I didn’t get an innocent wife, but because something so bad had happened that Anjali’s innocence was replaced with cynicism. I wish she hadn’t lost so much.

The ex-wife and the wife were having a polite conversation—I had never heard of anything so ludicrous.

No, I didn’t want her life. I hadn’t wanted her life even when I had had it. I didn’t want to be with a man I needed to apologize for.

Her stoic calm eroded. She burst into tears then and we mourned a child that was not ours, but who still was a part of us. For twelve years of his life, neither of us knew Amar existed. Now we did and we wept for his short life and we wept because I was to blame.

P.S:- Bottomline.. Truly a breath of Fresh Air.. !! Must Read !!! - 8.5/10

Saturday, July 17, 2010 by Hari
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