Review of 'The Anatomy of Choice' a Novel by Dr. Harshali Singh
‘The story has a sudden beginning with rendering of a triangular relationship between Bhavya the protagonist, and Tenzin and Kabir her two male counterparts.’
‘The Anatomy of Choice is the second book in the sequel of the Haveli Series and as the first one ‘The Window to her Dreams’ talks about Aruna, the tender, the fragile and the eldest sister, this book is all about Bhavya, her choices, her strong will power and her extreme ego. Yes, this is the first book I have come across in a long time where the female protagonist has been shown carrying such dignity and self respect for her that she has created a wall around her and she won’t let anybody come inside of it. Not even her family and neither her love interests. Bhavya is not at all the usual submissive heroine and she doesn’t fear to go ahead and experiment in relationships. Rather she is apprehensive to be committed in a monotonous liaison and this makes her walk out from her live- in relationship with Tenzin.
She is a hard headed and self dependent girl who wouldn’t sacrifice her freedom at any cost and after a slight commotion with Tenzin she decides to call it a quit, and leaving her life in Paris she returns to her home in Delhi. The Haveli or the old sentinel who is overjoyed to see Bhavya back also sees lines of dark clouds sitting over her youthful face. Why Bhavya takes the decision after an incident in Bali that brings her to a verge of leaving her lover Tenzin in Paris and come back to the house with 100 doors? As her big Sharma family welcomes her with warm hearts, they are skeptical too of her return. Slowly as time passes by Bhavya keeps on falling into an abyss of bewilderment and yet not to admit that she needs help from her family it soon becomes clear to them that she has many things hiding from them.
Bhavya who is seen as the rigid one in the family, whom no one can put any kind of boundation upon soon realizes that her short lived attraction Kabir too was in the city and she is not able to stop herself from meeting him. She reveals a big secret to him, yet, not the submissive kind she walks out of his face with a clear head that she doesn’t need any kind of sympathy towards her or for her situation that she was into.
On the other hand she has a conversation with her father Arun during his morning walks and realizes that inside the premises of the Haveli, there is a mausoleum of a courtesan Noori whose handwritten journal she receives from his study. With a difficult situation that she is in, where she is not able to judge her next step, Noori’s life story came as a great respite to her aching soul. She finds many truths about her that seem quite similar to what her life has become, she finds out about the twinge Noori had been through, the torment given to her by her family and her finally transforming into a royal courtesan by choice. This gives her some light, of following the heart and choosing whom one loves blindly and Bhavya knew who it was, yet her self esteem stops her from saying it aloud even though there were many instances when he was with her, who came to see her to seek her well being.
Thus, the story majorly revolves around the ego of Bhavya and her difficulty in being indecisive of what she truly wants and expects out of her relationship with both Tenzin and Kabir. She doesn’t want to be a burden on both, neither she is willing to compromise her freedom and also she doesn’t want to be taken care as one fragile woman. Her hard hardheadedness, her occasional fits and her grumpiness however come bowling over each and every one of the Sharma family except for her mother Uma who is all loving and most understanding woman taking care of the entire household of almost ten to twelve people. Bhavya finds solace in her mother’s arm yet she doesn’t have the heart to tell her what is bothering her.
Her family stands by her side despite of their huge mental differences, and in the end Bhavya is able to come out of the stigma that had been bothering her from the moment she left Paris. The end comes as a breather to see that Bhavya is able to find the solutions to her unasked questions that kept stirring inside of her but she never uttered them. In the end whether she chooses Tenzin or Kabir is for you to read and know, I shall not open the casket of revelations, it will spoil all the fun then.
Plethora’s Analysis & Verdict: ‘The Anatomy of Choice’ has the most inimitable beginning and then the story has its flow with a glance into Bhavya’s mind and heart both. The story moves in an organized pattern with each character portrayed in the right time. The author has great prowess and control over taking care of the emotions and feelings of all the characters involved in the story. She has bound the novel well by bringing together all the characters when they are needed and dealing with such a huge number of people in the book in one time, I would say that’s something truly commendable on her side. Going into the psyche of each character be it men or women she has displayed the pertinent emotions and their gestures and dialogues have been portrayed most precisely at the ideal time. A big family set up has been used which makes it all the more interesting to feel the glimpses of how despite of myriad differences in the thought process of each, a family can be caring and protective towards their blood. And the set of Sharma parents are also shown much linear for not intervening into the matters of their children’s lives until and unless they themselves choose to tell them.
Nonetheless, the most vital element that remains the major theme of the story is the freedom that a woman wants or seeks in a patriarchal society. And the author taking care of all the men’s mind sets, narrow somewhere and broad somewhere she has allowed the heroine of her story to achieve that freedom she desires for. But is woman ego really accepted by their counterparts, can it be healthy for a relationship to be sustained, how much freedom is good for a woman that will not make her sound a gregarious person and she would be not looked down upon by the society for not being able to take care of the relationship that she is surrounded with. These are the questions that you might have after reading this book, but surely you will find the answers in the most pragmatic manner. We all are different and so is Bhavya and her choices, but in the end you will like her for who she is and how she thinks. I would recommend it as a unique book that one must surely read and on the scale of 5 I would give this book a 4.5 stars rating.
My best wishes to the author and I am anxiously waiting for the third one in the series now.
Dr. Harshali Singh is a New Delhi based Member of the Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum- Grievance Redressal Forum- BYPL, a former member at the Consumer District Redressal Forum, but also an author, a poet, an academician, a teacher trainer, an Occupational Therapist, an avid reader and a passionate painter. She has written in several literary genres ranging from poetry to fiction, columns to essays. She is the contributing author in several anthologies and regularly writes for e magazines. Her Novels ‘A Window to her Dreams’, and the recently launched ‘The Anatomy of Choice’ form part of nine books series comprising the ‘Haveli Series’. Her poems are part of a woman centric bilingual anthology of poems called ‘She The Shakti’. She has won the prestigious ‘Write India- Season 2’, a short story Contest organized by ‘The Times of India’ Group on Chitra Banerjee Divakaurni’s prompt. The Times Group has recently launched the book at the Times Lit Fest in Delhi and Bangalore amid much fanfare. She has also chaired discussions with eminent personalities in their chosen fields of World Peace, Meditation, Infertility and Social Causes and stalwarts in the field of writing.