ByÂ Upasana Sharma:Â Is love only skin deep? Is marriage truly the commitment of a lifetime, for the better or the worse, till death do us part? Raising these, along with many other questions is Sudha Murty, the author of Mahashweta. It’s a story of Dr. Anand and Anupama, for whom it was love at first sight. A fairytale wedding followed. Nothing could possibly go wrong in their life but, everything does, when Anupama discovers that she suffers from leukoderma. Storyline: Anupama, an unbelievably beautiful woman who does stage plays to raise money for the underprivileged, studies on scholarships and acts really well, is born into a poor family consisting of father, a step mother and two step sisters. Anand is a well educated and well bred doctor from a highly orthodox Kannada family. The only hitch in this heavenly match is that Anupama’s family isn’t blessed with wealth and Anand’s family has abundance of it. Love makes up for that hitch. Everything goes on fine till the time Anupama discovers a white patch on her foot, which upon a visit to the dermatologist is confirmed as leukoderma. Her familial ostracization and her spirit of survival against all odds is what make up the rest of the story.
The Good: Engaging characters, carefully detailed and very relatable. A simple storyline picks up on some very socially relevant issues like: 1) As a society have we become broad minded enough to appreciate the inner beauty over the physical one? 2) Do we really always expect perfection in our loved ones and the love that we feel for them is conditional? 3) How accepting are we towards illness that changes our physical appearance? 4) I quote the book here “Even though the female child is stronger than the male child at birth, as adults it is the man who becomes the oppressor, and the woman who suffers. Why did this happen?” These questions and many alike are asked by the author during the course of the book, through her characters. The post script needs to be read before reading the book in which, the author narrates an incident wherein a marriage was saved by this very story. The narration and the incident make the book a special read. The character of Anupama should be highlighted while talking about the good. Anupama is a survivor. She is the kind of character that inspires you enough to want to be like her. Gritty, determined and with unwavering self belief despite all odds, she emerges as a woman of her own right. Standing tall and independent, she makes you question every notion you have about relationships. Some characters stay with you even after completing a book, Anupama will definitely be one of them.
The Bad: The storyline is very simple, without twists and turns. A reader with a taste for thrillers and mystery will find it difficult to enjoy this simple read.
My two cents: Mahashweta means “the white one” and in the book, Anupama comes out as the Mahashweta. This book inspired me and made me smile with its simplicity. It’s a no fuss book, easy breezy read. A page turner, nonetheless. The story, despite being simple, keeps you hooked. To me that is a huge achievement. Despite the social messages weaved into it, the book never gets preachy. Despite the basic premise of the book being a village, it is very contemporary. The language is simple, clear and very easy to understand. Leukoderma patients, till date, are subject to jeers and ridicule, despite it being a known fact that vitiligo, another name for leukoderma, is nothing but a skin condition in which there is a loss of brown colour (pigment) from areas of skin, resulting in irregular white patches that feel like normal skin and it in no way hinders the normal daily functioning of the patient. The book goes a long way in highlighting this fact.
My Verdict: Do not miss!