Love and loss, heartbreak and healing, regrets and hopes. A mishmash of people and their stories, a coming-of-age tale that is as much about the old mill lands of Mumbai as it is about its residents.
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It’s Also About Mynah by Rucha Chitrodia (published by Amaryllis) is about a young girl’s abrupt plunge into the ups and downs of adulthood, and the nostalgia that adults invariably feel at the loss of innocence and youth.
When young Mynah moves to Mumbai to join an ad agency, her overprotective father Gopala is not pleased. However, as all parents eventually do, he learns that he must let her go and experience life in its entirety, the good and the bad. Meanwhile, Mynah finds herself unwillingly falling into a rollercoaster ride filled with a ghosting boyfriend, a stern yet loving PG landlady, an MIA biological mother and wisecracking colleagues.
The story follows Mynah learning to deal with the heartbreak and uncertainty of adulthood. But it’s not the only one that stands out. There is the plot of her father Gopala coming to terms with the circumstances of his divorce and learning to let go of his baby girl. We also meet Mynah’s landlady Aruna and her failed marriage, are angered by Mynah’s ghosting boyfriend Rohit and his growing dissatisfaction with his relationship, and more. Each tale is remotely connected to the other in an ever-growing web, as each character deals with their own coming-of-age experiences.
In a culture that sees age as a milestone, it’s humbling to remember that life can start and stop at any point.
Manzil se behtar lagne lage hain raaste
It’s Also About Mynah is a web of interconnected stories. It jumps from past to present to future and back with all the subtlety of a charging elephant. This can also throw the reader off a little at the start.
However, the seemingly random jumps form an interconnected network of stories that are all different from each other and yet the same. The stories reflect the culture and mythology of the old mill lands of Mumbai (with guest appearances from the sprawling city of Bangalore, the fields of Kerala and others); hopes and dreams and aspirations melding with disappointment, bitterness, and toil.
Although it can be a bit confusing due to the lack of a traditional narrative arc, the jumps in time and space parallel the ups and downs of the characters’ stories. You don’t just read about the characters, you experience their regrets and anguish and healing as if it were your own. It puts words to that pesky feeling of being overwhelmed, regretful, happy and ambitious all at once, a feeling that most simply label as “adulthood.”
Both anger and calm need fuel, and fuel has a lifespan.
This is not a ‘beginning – middle – end’ kind of book. It’s a thousand-piece puzzle that when assembled, may or may not make sense. But the process itself is worth it.