This novel exemplifies the material raise and moral fall of Gautam and Sneha and also the poignant end of the latter and the spiritual rise of the former that is after the fall. Besides, this piquant story depicts the tragic life of their son Suresh Prabhu and his eventual redemption through love for and of Vidya.
Book One, Artha and Kama, is about conflict and resolution arising out of ambition and achievement, intrigue and betrayal, compulsion and compromise, sleaze and scandal, trial and sentence and regret and remorse spread over eighteen chapters.
Book Two, Dharma and Moksha, portrays the possibilities of life through repentance and recompense, hope and love, and compassion and contribution leading to the spirituality of materialism in twelve chapters.
The story of a life time, truly.
If passing through youth was like crossing the mirage of life for Chandra and Nithya, it proved to be chasing the mirage of love for Sathya and Prema though for plain Vasavi, Chandra’s pitiable sibling, it was the end of the road.
As life brings Chandra, who suffers from an inferiority complex for his perceived ugliness, and Nithya, who was bogged down being jilted by Vasu, together, they script their fate of fulfillment.
And as poetic justice would have it, Sathya, who caused Prema’s heart burn, himself was led down the garden path by Kala, doing a Sathya on Sathya.
Just not that, life has in store just deserts for Vasu owing to Nithya’s retribution as he tries to stalk her. Besides, after many a fictional twist and turn, the way the story ends, challenges the perception that fact is stranger than fiction.
The attractions Roopa experienced and the fantasies she entertained as a teen shaped a male imagery that ensconced her subconscious. Insensibly, confident carriage came to be associated with the image of maleness in her mind-set. Her acute consciousness of masculinity only increased her vulnerability to it, making her womanliness crave for the maleness for its gratification. However, as her father was constrained to help her in becoming a doctor, she opts to marry, hoping that Sathyam might serve her cause though the persona she envisioned as masculine, she found lacking in him. But as he fails to go with her idea, she becomes apathetic towards him, and insensibly sinks into her friend Sandhya’s embrace, for lesbian solace.
In time, she comes in contact with Tara the suave call girl who unsuccessfully tries to rope her into her calling to achieve which she introduces Ravi the seducer. However, when Roopa goes to attend Sandhya’s wedding, she loses her heart to Raja Rao the groom even as Prasad, her husband’s lecherous friend falls for her. The scheming Prasad induces Sathaym to go the corrupt way besides weaning him away from Roopa with the aid of whores to make his path clear to her amour and that throws her into a dilemma. But as fate puts Raja Rao into Roopa’s arms, how the tale ends is best described by one Mr. Spencer Critchley, thus: “It’s a refreshing surprise to discover that the story will not trace a fall into disaster for Roopa, given that many writers might have habitually followed that course with a wife who strays into extramarital affairs.”
Who said the novel is dead; ‘Benign Flame’ raises the bar.