A review of ‘The Jasmine Bloom’ by Author Aruna Ghose.
‘There is a tide in the affairs of man, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune…’ However, in the case of Sameer Chadha, the protagonist of Jasmine Bloom, certain decisions that had inadvertently been taken lead to a series of incidents that turn his life upside down.
On the surface, Sameer’s life seems ideal—a good job, devoted wife and two bright and loving daughters. Yet, he is dissatisfied and wants more, both at work and at home. A new, more prestigious job description and a wife who is more communicative and supportive.
Enter Ritu, a colleague who has her own set of problems and frustrations—an abusive husband and an autistic son.
When their lives collide, events spiral out of control—his wife dies. At more or less the same time, his work-life unravels and he finds himself the victim of a Machiavellian plot that discredits him and forces him to resign.
Without a wife and a job, Sameer is faced with the dilemma of how to cope as an unemployed single parent as well as reclaim his reputation in the professional world.
The reader follows Sameer’s misfortunes with bated breath, wanting to know if his bad luck will continue (and at times it looks as if it will) or whether he will pull himself out of the morass he’s in.
But what really draws the reader in are the descriptions of Delhi, the minutiae of daily life in a small, well-knit family, reminisces of college life, and all the other little nuances that contribute to making this a compelling work of fiction.
This is probably because of the author’s ability to weave a good story and his skill of breathing life into each of the main characters. Each has been vividly portrayed with all their quirks and contradictions, so much so that the reader identifies with Sameer and his family, suffering with them and cheering at every piece of good news.
It is extremely well written and the humourous and empathetic prose is often interspersed with rather good poetry (the author is a poet as well).
However, there are instances when some of the tragedies that engulf him (and to some extent Ritu) seem relentless and could have been avoided. From example, his younger daughter Pari’s hospitalization, harassment from the police on some non-essential issue to name a couple.
Despite the many adversities, the story has a feel-good quality about it, and the author should be congratulated for presenting such a remarkable first novel.