Not So Grave: Commentary from beyond, a novella by Dr. Aparna Salvi Nagda is a metaphorical ride filled with humour, pearls of wisdom, and a unique approach to changing societal norms and breaking stereotypes. The quirky choice of narrator and the tongue-in-cheek narrative style make the story even more interesting. She has captured the essence of Delhi in these pages with pizzazz.
As the subtitle states, Not So Grave is a commentary from beyond. Yes, from beyond the realms of life. Our protagonist, Robinhood Singh, aka Robu, is dead. And here, we look at life through his lively and passionate commentary.
Robu is the quintessential Punjabi guy who loves to live in the moment. He runs a Dhaba opposite a prestigious College in Delhi. The love of his life, Pushpakala, a Tam Brahm, their little daughter, Dimple, his Biji, and their dog, Chandy, live in a modest home in Lajpat Nagar. While his sudden death leaves the family in shock and tears, he is not gone completely. He is still lingering around, witnessing his family’s sorrow, coming to terms with the truth, and learning to deal with his absence.
Aparna addresses many important themes here. Marriage across cultural identities, death, sadness, society’s treatment of widows, ADHD in children, an older woman’s relationship with a younger man, sexual pleasure and gratification, and a second chance at life.
Despite the heavy themes, the approach is light-hearted and humorous and makes this a fun read.
She has done a commendable job in attempting to break societal stereotypes. I wish she had taken the same path in creating her characters. Unfortunately, the characters fit perfectly into a stereotypical mould. Robu and his mother are the typical loud Punjabis, poorly educated, swearing with glee, and in love with beer, chicken, paratha, and chole. While Pushpakala is a dusky Tam Brahm, a doctorate, who loves her sambar and rasam.
The typecasting got my goat! Apart from my personal dislike for such portrayals (not sure if other readers would feel the same way) I feel they are well sketched. They are flawed and realistic. I loved the camaraderie between Pushpakala and her mother-in-law. They are strong, independent women who know how to give and gain respect.
Aparna has done wonderful research on Delhi life and Punjabi culture. But, the same has not been extended to the South Indian aspect.
For example, there’s a particular scene where Pushpakala is enjoying rasam rice in Karnataka Bhavan, and says, “This is Palakkad on my platter.”
As an own voice reviewer, I take exception to this statement. Palakkad cuisine is way too different from Kannadiga, and there’s no way Pushpakala could have felt Palakkad on her platter. Rasam is a generic term, but the flavor changes across the states, and even districts, for that matter. I am not sure if this was an oversight or creative liberty.
Every page of Not So Grave is a reflection of Aparna’s trademark style. She loves metaphors and idioms and has not shied away from their usage in this book too. The numerous witty and unique devices are delightful and lend a unique flavour to the book. A slight moderation of their usage would have been equally effective, too.
Not So Grave, is a lovely and enjoyable story. Unfortunately, it fails to reach its full potential on account of editing. Certain passages are unnecessarily lengthy and need tightening. The ending is rushed, with the events unfolding like a bat out of hell, and the resolution could have used more refinement.
Sharing a few heart-warming and memorable quotes-
Cultures aren’t greater than human emotions. They teach you to love, spread harmony, and live as a benevolent individual. I believe your love is as pure as Sahib’s love towards Khalsa.
What troubles a dead more than dying is people gingerly let him die in their memories.
Silence looms over their table. It hangs like a string connecting two grieving individuals.
What I don’t get is why on earth they call it a progress report when all they show is how horrible and pathetic you have been during the tenure.
Revolutions are cemented with reasoning. Not conveniences.
Kindness comes in small packets.
“It is easy to find someone who looks into your eyes and loves you, but it’s exceptional to find somebody who looks at the world as you do without even blinking an eye at you.”
Not So Grave is sure to leave you in splits. It is a delectable concoction of wisdom, profound thoughts, and zany humour. Pick up this book to enjoy a chuckle filled ride.
Wordsopedia Rating 3.25/5
|Title: Not So Grave||Author: Aparna Salvi Nagda|
|Publisher: Kindle||Publication date: September, 2022|
|Genre: Fiction–Humour||Format: eBook|
|ASIN: B0BDYS6RKP||No. of Pages: 76|
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About the author
Pen or pill? Prescription or description? Caught in her own web, Dr. Aparna Salvi Nagda is a homeopathic consultant by day, earning her bread and butter through a medical practice in Mumbai. Yet, she yearns for a living with liberal writing and expressing herself through the Word. Finding solace in books both academic and fiction, Aparna is also a teacher by passion, enthralling her students with quirky biology lessons, half of which she reproduces from class to class, generation to generation. Of all her passions, being married is the best one. Marriage has also blessed her with an amazing, encouraging family who makes the passion of living worthwhile. Her husband, a doctor by profession and her best buddy, pushes her from the kitchen to the writing desk so that he finds solace from the crackling pots and thudding pans.
Aparna is hopeful that the twilight years will be nothing less than passionate extravaganzas of writing expeditions.
Get in touch with the author here.