During the short vacation I enjoyed recently, I completed reading Nim Gholkar’s debut novel, “Unravelling Anjali.” The byline of this book, published by Become Shakespeare in December 2014, is the “Diary of an Immigrant Bride” which is an accurate description of the book.
Anjali is a girl who grows up in a fairly conservative Maharashtrian family in Mumbai. Her biggest dream is to be swept off her feet by a man who would love her like no one else could. She hopes this dream man would come into her life soon but when at 26 there still are no signs whatsoever of this man appearing in her life to carry her off to a more romantic existence, she reconciles herself to agree to an” arranged ” marriage. In such cases, as you might know, the parents of the boy or girl in question have a major role in choosing a “suitable” partner. In Anjali’s case, the choice was rather unconventional. She may have been disappointed that the bridegroom was a divorcee but she was happy that he lived in Australia.
Her husband, Ravi, has been in Australia for many years and Anjali loves the thought of living in a country that she has heard so much about. She wishes to break free from the relatively sheltered life she has led till then in Mumbai. It is only when she gets to Australia as a young bride that she finds things aren’t as rosy as she thought they might be. For one thing, her husband is a self-proclaimed workaholic. His main goal in life is to work to the best of his ability to make as much money as he can. He believes this will help him avoid the mediocre life led by many people associated with his youth including his own father. This zeal naturally creates problems for the young bride who seeks her husband’s comforting presence in an alien land but seldom finds him around.
The story is presented in an interesting diary format where you track Anjali’s story as it transpires over time. This lends itself to capturing the major incidents that take place and the milestones in her life which make her a changed woman by the end of the story. In the course of the story, she takes up a job, makes new friends and is able to break out of the shackles imposed upon her by a husband who takes her for granted expecting her to be docile and obedient to him only because he is working hard for their future.
Ms. Gholkar’s writing style was enjoyable and I like the touches that spring up from time to time when Anjali’s parents and in-laws speak in their mother tongue, Marathi. This gives an authentic touch to the story and their characters. Anjali’s character has been developed well as indeed has Ravi’s. The book reaches a climax when she has to make difficult choices that would affect her future as a wife and as a woman.
Having lived in Australia herself, Ms. Gholkar writes with authority about the issues immigrants like Anjali have to deal with when they first reach a land very different from the one they have been used to. Oh, by the way, it’s not that Anjali’s story is her own but the author (like Anjali in her story) is also originally from Mumbai and went to Australia in the ’90s.
You can see more about the book and the author at the author’s website.