Wednesday, 8 May 2013

The Homing Pigeons by Sid Bahri

Title : The Homing Pigeons
Author : Sid Bahri
Genre : Fiction
Publisher :
Shristi Publication
Pages : 328
My Rating : 7.5/10
Reviewed For :
The Reader Cosmos Book Review Program / South Asian Challenge 2013



In the middle of the catastrophic 2008 recession, Aditya, a jobless, penniless man meets an attractive stranger in a bar, little does he know that his life will change forever…..
When Radhika, a young, rich widow, marries off her stepdaughter, little does she know that the freedom that she has yearned for is not exactly how she had envisioned it…..
They say Homing Pigeons always come back to their mate, no matter where you leave them on the face of this earth. Homing Pigeons is the story of love between these two unsuspecting characters as it is of lust, greed, separations, prejudices and crumbling spines.

My Review:

From the outset, The Homing Pigeons is an engaging read. As the tagline says - "Not all love stories are perfect but then, neither are people” - this is the story of two imperfect people coming together and making an equally imperfect love story. Having said that, let me assure you that this read is not the mushy romance that is generally associated with love stories.
The story starts with Aditya who falls victim to recession & hence loses his job. Almost a year of unemployment, desperate & fruitless efforts to find a stable job in the sinking recession-hit market & a loveless marriage drive him to the edge of frustration. Totally broke and running out of options, Aditya finds himself in a bar, spending the last batch of his savings & drinking himself to numbness when an attractive stranger takes a seat next to him. An initial round of drinks and a bizarre business proposition later, Aditya ’s life takes a complete 360° turn which he hadn’t imagined even in his wildest of dreams.

Anticipation of a moment is much bigger and alluring than the moment itself. Radhika learns this the hard way where the freedom that she has been craving for so much from a tiresome marriage & an equally tiresome life is not as gratifying as she had envisioned it. Young & rich yet lonely, Radhika tries to seek out the one thing that will inject some colors into her otherwise dreary life. This is the story of Radhika & Aditya, story of their life – together & separated yet connected to each other.

On first impressions, the two protagonists – Aditya & Radhika seem completely different from each other like the two ends of a diameter. As a result, when the story starts, the reader might get the illusion of two parallel stories running together. But as the story progresses and oscillates between the past & the present, the readers get a glimpse of their romantic entanglements. The major highlight of this read is its unique narration where the point of view keeps alternating between Aditya & Radhika with each chapter. It is indeed a great effort by the author in deviating from the normal pattern of narration and giving the reader an insight of both the protagonists’ views without being repetitive.

However, for me the best part of this read was the character development. Aditya & Radhika are both flawed & complex characters with many layers to them. At the start of the read both might seem spiteful, shallow even. However, as the story unfolds, these various layers are slowly peeled off and with each flashback the readers get a glimpse into their real world, their insecurities, their regrets and vulnerabilities. Aditya & Radhika - both get hurt throughout the course of their life, sometimes by others and sometimes by each other. Initially, they try to shield each other from the pain by playing the sacrificial lamb but when even that doesn’t work, they start shielding themselves from the pain further by hurting each other. As the plot progresses, the characters grow and transform from being hated to someone being empathized. Another highlight of this novel was the wonderful manner in which their paths kept intersecting in spite of them running away from each other.

The plot has its own tides and ebbs making it  gripping at times and slightly drab at others. The constant oscillation between the past & the present is at times a bit confusing. However, for a major part of the read, the reader remains hooked. The author has sketched real & relatable characters and that too helps in making this read riveting. All in all, this is a thought provoking read which will keep the reader engrossed.

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