Priya: In Incredible Indyaa by Namita Gokhale is the sequel of Paro that I had reviewed a few days back. The sequel has come after a gap of 27 years. The characters remain the same but of course, a generation has moved since. So have the career graphs of the people involved.
Priya who used to live in the shadow of Paro is now a minister’s wife and mother of twin sons. The story of Priya begins from her bungalow in Lutyens Delhi where her husband of many decades is a minister now. Her life in that part of Delhi brings out the nexus between politicians and businessmen of all kinds. The prime focus of the story is on the ‘society women’ who end up playing a role of wheeler-dealers. More often than not these women come from the middle class with loads of ambition. They are the perfect customer any luxury brand can look for.
This is the story of Priya – a Mumbai girl who learns the ropes of Delhi Drawing room circles. She learns to play the role of a perfect political wife who knows how much to starch the khadi kurtas and what gift to recycle to whom. She is proud of being a mother of two sons but has her anxieties about their lives.
What is interesting is that throughout her life, she continues to have an affair with her ex-boss. She continues to meet him, sleep with him, while she is furious when she discovers the affairs of her husband. There is a constant struggle that Priya goes through to keep track of her husband’s affairs. It is interesting how she ignores some of them in the interest of privileges that come with being a minister’s wife.
There is an interesting sub-plot of following the astrologers, where even the spelling change of country’s name is suggested. This is where the story gets satirical a bit. I could imagine some of the famous numerologists and astronomers of the early 2000s when every celebrities name carried their influence. The political matchmaking that goes, the show-offs at weddings and the heady mix of money and political power – this is something soap operas are made of.
There is a filmy story of the son falling in love with the daughter of an old friend. The old friend works for an NGO in Bastar while his wife is the coal minister there. In the general text of the story, there is a constant fear that the mother lives in – that one of her sons would turn out to be gay. I think this angle was inserted to be in sync with what is fashionable in writing. There was no need to get this angle in a political story.
As an average citizen, this story is a good peep into the lives of Lutyens Delhi. I do not know how and what kind of access the author has to these lives or if she is a part of it, but she has brought out their multi-faceted lives very well. These are ambitious people, who are most powerful in the country at the moment. They may or may not stay in power tomorrow, but today they are the kings and queens. Their backgrounds vary from humble to royal, their journeys as different as they can be, but they are all equal in the present. The story of Dhobi’s daughter points to a potential future where they may be equals.
Buy Priya: In Incredible Indyaa by Namita Gokhale at Amazon India
Overall, it is a fast read. Namita Gokhale knows how to hold the attention of her readers. Language is lucid and narrative perfectly smooth. I am curious to know where her sources in Lutyens Delhi are.
Read it when you want to see the lives of those who live in Lutyens Delhi on Taxpayers money.