By Anita Nair
This is riveting story of a woman’s search for strength and independence.
The protagonist Akhilandeshwari, Akhila for short, is forty-five and single, an income-tax clerk, and a woman who has never been allowed to live her own life – always the daughter, the sister, the aunt, the provider. Until the day she gets herself a one-way ticket to the seaside town of Kanyakumari, gloriously alone for the first time in her life and determined to break free of all that her conservative Tamil Brahmin life has bound her to.
In the intimate atmosphere of the ladies coupé which she shares with five other women, Akhila gets to know her fellow travelers. And follows is an exciting and absorbing read.
Janaki, pampered wife and confused mother; Margaret Shanti, a chemistry teacher married to the poetry of elements and an insensitive tyrant too self-absorbed to recognize her needs; Prabha Devi, the perfect daughter and wife, transformed for life by a glimpse of a swimming pool; Fourteen-year-old Sheela, with her ability to perceive what others cannot; And Marikolanthu, whose innocence was destroyed by one night of lust.
A diverse mix of ladies with their share of stories and insights to their life. As she listens to the women’s stories, Akhila is drawn into the most private moments of their lives, seeking in them a solution to the question that has been with her all her life: Can a woman stay single and be happy, or does a woman need a man to feel complete?
The incidents, the lives, and the cultural diversity of these women are very relatable and feel real. The stories of each of the ladies in the coupe are invigorating, enticing, uplifting and inspiring in their own way. Thoughts and feelings and dreams poured in to words that bring to life show the author’s strength as a writer. It does leave you thinking about one of the simplest yet complex question- does a woman really need a man to complete her and her life? The fine art of story-telling is justified by this author in a very rich way.
(Review by Sanajana Kapoor)