” Someday, whenever the spring breaks through,
You’ll come to me out of the long ago
Warm as the wind, soft as the kiss of snow…”
This eternal and poignant love song from the forever green movie Dr. Zhivago has almost been brought alive in the pages of the book ‘A Quest for Spring’ authored by first time writer Monica Mujumdar Dixit.
Penning the book was in itself nothing short of an undying love story for Monica. She disclosed to me that she had first written it as a short story contained in just 18 pages. She sent it to a friend to read who opined candidly that ‘ there was something that felt wrong about it!’ Then he went on to say “I think it has the makings of a full fledged novel – you cannot write this love story in 17 short pages!”
So Monica set about to write it, but along the way she read 3 books first. Two on Kashmir – because that’s where part of the action is based, and one about Sahir Ludhianvi and his shayari because Raehan, the hero of the book who is from Kashmir loves to quote Sahir!
The book is about inter faith romance and the impossible path it has to tread. Specially in those times about which the book writes. (May be worse today with all the politics around it and the ugly specter of Love Jihad! After her book was published Monica even received a hostile message asking why she was promoting a Hindu – Muslim love affair?)
The book was written over a period of 3 years give and take a few months.
For someone writing a novel for the first time it must have taken tremendous determination and resolve to just finish it! Monica did not just that but searched for publishers and finally self published it with Notion Press, from Chennai. All this while raising a little daughter and living in a joint family.
She has brought alive the characters of the book : Amolika and Reahan who meet as classmates in a fictitious Hill station called Dharnidhar. There is a twist though, unknown to Reahan, who is the grandson of a very popular Kashmiri leader, Amolika has been tasked to spy on him. That is the condition on which she will be allowed to go abroad for further studies.
Ambitious and somewhat selfish in chasing her goals in life Amolika agrees to the condition, with almost disastrous results. What happens next, you will have to read…
A huge part of the story is based in Kashmir which is in the midst of elections then… you find it unbelievable that Monica has written the whole segment without ever setting foot on Kashmir soil.
“I could have easily gone there; I have many Kashmiri friends who kept inviting me, but I chose not to go because I did not want the turmoil to get to me and vitiate my love story!” Explains the spunky girl.
You like it that none of the characters in the book are perfect; they are suspicious, insecure and can also be scheming and conniving. Monica traverses through the twists and turns of disturbed marriages very effectively – in fact more so than when she writes about politics. I found this portion most riveting.
Yes, at some places the narrative falters and space becomes slow…but hey! It’s a first time write, that much is forgiven. And that too from someone who has been a practicing lawyer – in the Jabalpur High Court, and not a journalist or a writer.
This book is definitely worth a read.
Unfortunately one cannot buy it from a book store like Crosswords but it can be easily ordered online through Amazon or other portals. It is also available in Kindle.
—Sunita Mudaliar (Executive Editor)