By Abha Dawesar
This is a story of Anamika Sharma, (called Babyji by her maid) –a mature, responsible, fiercely intelligent teenager from a stereotypical middle class Indian family.
An ace student with a penchant for Physics, she is on the brink of adulthood exploring her sexuality and applies quantum physics in real life and indulges in three lesbian affairs, simultaneously. She charms her maid (Rani), seduces an elegant older divorcee (whom she calls India) and catches the fancy of her classmate (Sheela), who is one of the most sought-after girls of her school.
Between managing responsibilities at school (she is also the head prefect) while preparing for IIT and acing her exams, she effortlessly balances the three affairs, and also catches the eye of her best friend’s father who makes numerous advances to allure her.
At school she’s a genius – at home she sneaks off to the garage to read Kamasutra.
Anamika is our very typical teenager – who adheres to some of her traditional mores – like respecting her elders and servants; has her naivety, her tender moments, her aggressiveness, her selfish, self-absorbed behavior, her rebellion, and also her intellectual conversations that sometimes put her elders in a tight spot. She is a very relatable character, who indulges in acts of seduction and indulgence to express her rebellion. She confronts her elders with questions that have no definite “right” answers.
This is a fast paced, bold, sexy, and quite a well written novel. It is amazing how Abha Dawesar has dealt with a very controversial theme – the sexual escapades of a homosexual Indian teenager with such ease. It is only recently that the society has started talking openly about sex. It was considered a taboo to even utter the three letter word and be friends with the opposite sex. Anamika’s multiple lovers (all women) are of varied age and social standing.
Also, it is commendable how Abha has brought about the subject of the Indian Caste System and its underlying implications subtly in the story.
The story is quite honest in its portrayal of the idea of America being an educational haven and the whole notion of sex, power and glamour. It treads the fine line between moral inquiry and debauched pleasure giving the readers some food for thought.
The only grievance: the characters could’ve been developed more. There are interesting thoughts in each chapter which could be further harnessed. And yes, the sexual molestation scene was a bit disturbing. Overall, a daring, sensual, funny, intense, absorbing and coming-of-age story of a teenager.