From the first moment Anil Mayur sees Lina Merali he is mesmerised – there is only one thing he knows. He has to make her his. For Lina Merali, whom the blurb says is a devoted muslim daughter (but I would disagree with this) its not just a simple matter of whether she likes Anil. He opens up a whole new world, his love for art and architecture teach Lina that there is so much more to the world than she has known and seen. Anil admires Lina for her passion for humanitarian issues and her desire to be attuned with spirituality. It is interesting then, that what brings these two lovers together eventually tears them apart. Anil – who comes from a wealthy background and lives a life of luxury in Kenya, is happy to turn a blind eye to how his father makes so much money, where corruption is rife. Lina, from humble beginnings sets out on a path to fulfill her dreams and do something that will make a difference.
Basil’s writing has developed and grown but does not leave behind the beautiful lyrical style of her critically acclaimed debut, Ishq and Mushq. There is perhaps less of an authoratative wiser narrator here, which is empowering allowing the reader freedom to make their own conclusions.
It is likely that a reader is just as torn in the dilemma as its two protagonists. There are times when the plot makes for uncomfortable reading and Lina’s internal struggle becomes confusing to the reader (and everybody else in the book).
The deep corrupt illegal arms trade juxtaposed against the dark entanglement of the lovers dilemma makes for an interesting premise. Torn by culture, what her father wants her to do and what she’d really like, its the obscure logic of the heart which keeps Lina from truly committing to her relationship with Anil. But he has to have her and cannot live without her. Will he ever let her go?
There are many layers here for a reader to explore should they wish to dig deep enough, Basil has done well tackling some deep thoughtful issues along the way. A brilliant second book and one that makes a stand to address the complex battle and struggle for identity and independence faced by the modern Asian woman.