The cover image and the blurb of a very old book caught my eye at my grandparents’ home one summer. On an impulse, I read the book. To my pleasant surprise, this two-part series turned out to be my most cherished read, which stayed with me long after, and there began my love affair with the author.
Yaddanapudi Sulochana Rani, her stories, her plots and her writing are such a delight. If you are interested purely in the tale, the narrative and the emotions, she is unparalleled. She makes you her slave, driving your emotions from love to extreme hate in a matter of a few pages.
She surely is a progressive writer of her generation. Never are her heroines doormats. She challenges societal obligations in most of her books, and Meena is no different.
What makes the book so special? It is Meena – the main character – and a host of other characters that surround & compliment her. Meena is not your regular do-gooder, demure heroine. She is nosy, she is temperamental, she is impulsive, and she is absolutely terrified of her mother. And all these qualities drive her every move, making this an insane ride. Even when you are exasperated with her, you will still be rooting for her.
The story, like you all guessed, revolves around the heroine, her silent rebellion against her mother, her escape from an unwanted wedding , her attempt to reunite feuding families, and how she succeeds in marrying the love of her life against all odds. The way the relationship between the hero and the heroine plays out, draws out a smile from you at the end, leaving you thrilled.
The other important characters include the hero and the mother, who are different yet similar, and stay at two ends of the spectrum, pulling the heroine towards each other. She swings, she sways, and at the end, she swings them around. And there is a silent father in the background, who stays mute to the goings-on around him in his attempt to not hurt his loved ones.
Yaddanapudi is very good with details. Every scene unveils in front of you. The way she describes two seemingly opposite things with the same note, be it the comparison between urban & rural people, or the different lifestyles of the affluent and the poor, evokes empathy, and leaves you in splits at the same time. The way she doesn’t miss even the minutest of things is so commendable, and overall, charming to read.
If the names Yaddanapudi & Bapu (whose illustration is on the cover page) don’t convince you to give it a try, then – brace yourself – your favorite director/writer would. Trivikram Srinivas is a fan, of the author in general, and of Meena in particular. His debut movie, Nuvve Nuvve, is heavily inspired from this, and he has a host of other episodes in different movies which were inspired from the author’s other prominent works.
You would think it was written in this decade if packaged right, while actually it was written sometime around the ’70s, when the Birla Mandir was newly built. It is that fresh. And it comes with glorious recommendations from three generations of my family.