I have always been a sucker for beautiful book covers and this one proved no exception. The cover of A Blueprint for Love is entrancing and the blue window made me want to open it to see what secrets it holds. The fact that the author is one of my favourites coupled with the beautiful cover made me want to forget all my chores and immerse myself in the tale. Chatura Rao’s earlier book, Meanwhile Upriver, was about life in Varanasi and I loved it. The acknowledgements section was delightful and I can never forget how wonderfully the author expressed her thanks. Needless to say, I headed straight for the acknowledgements on getting my hands on A Blueprint For love, and Chatura didn’t disappoint me at all. How can I not be happy, when she starts off like this – “This story was written over four years, the earliest draft dredged from the joy and sorrow of growing up in the home of my childhood.”
A Blueprint for Love is the story of Reva, Suveer and Aboli. Reva and Aboli are cousins who are a couple of years apart yet have bonded over mischief, nonsensical games and unbridled laughter spend in their huge family home in Pune. The house brought them together during holidays. Later, as students, when Suveer and Aboli met in restaurants and parks, Reva who was some years younger to them, was a silent witness to their fledgling relationship. Aboli’s death tears them all apart and nothing is the same for Reva ever since.
She follows her career to Mumbai and within a short time gets married and settles down. But Aboli’s absence has left a mark on Reva from which she has never fully recovered. There’re times when she feels a spectator in her own life. Reva has never been able to let go of the memories of that house in Pune. “For Reva even now the house was like a cupboard that wouldn’t close. She tried to springclean her memories, with a light heart whenever possible, arranging the odds and ends, patting them down and shutting firmly the old doors. She would wedge remembered conversations like folded pieces of paper between them.”
One day she gets in touch with Suveer with whom she shares a special relationship, because they both haven’t been able to let go of Aboli. Thus starts a friendship which feels much more real to her than anything else in her life. They meet the next year on Aboli’s birthday and thus starts a tradition of trying to meet every year.
Suveer is a bold young reporter and in the course of his work he gets entangled in the lives of Mahnoor and her husband Zahyan, a young couple who are unwittingly drawn into a contentious issue. Suveer is beaten up while trying to help Mahnoor and he lands up in hospital. Reva rushes to his side and this act forces them to redraw all the lines which had hitherto formed the framework of their lives.
The two couples from vastly different strata of society face challenges which threaten their existence and everything they believed in. The blueprint of their love is completely transformed, some lines are erased and new ones are drawn. This journey of discovery, of themselves and the relationships in their lives, forms the crux of this book. The characters are brought to life with simple, deft strokes by the writer. There’s no ornate prose but the language is used very evocatively. There are other characters who play small but important roles in the lives of the protagonists, like Uma who is Suveer’s mother and Hamida, a footpath dweller who wants to better her life. They add layers to the narrative, adding to its lustre without hampering its smooth progress. A communal issue has been touched upon here, but Chatura makes sure that it does not dominate the actual story.
This book is like a song that sits lightly on the tongue, flowing smoothly forward, leaving a faint echo in the mind of the reader. Chatura captures moments of life and presents it like a beautifully crafted tapestry. I have only one infinitesimally small gripe, which is that I would have liked to read more about Reva and Suveer, whose lives reflect the conflicts faced by so many people today. In an era where the fabric of society woven over centuries is getting badly frayed and torn, it’s interesting to read about moral dilemmas which really doesn’t have a villain, except for circumstance.