About The Story Love,more than any other human emotion, makes us imagine a world different from the one we know. Mostly this vision of perfection looks to the future, but in Annie Zaidi’s story, it looks to the past. Fifteen years after his lover married another man, the protagonist, Suhail, receives a letter she had sent him with a plan for elopement. The letter draws him from the new life he has made for himself back to the small town where he first dreamt of happiness with his beloved. His return creates a tumult, and the town becomes both audience and actor in the case lodged on his behalf in the local court by his spirited cousin, the lawyer Sheeba.
The story, told from Sheeba’s perspective, breaks repeatedly into entertaining interludes in which a range of reactions from around the town—and all around India—are described without comment. No one can resist opining on the relationship between love and marriage, self and society, past and present. What will come of this for Suhail? And will his old flame, the long-married Khushbu Rawat, reveal her own mind? Zaidi’s story is a fine example of fiction’s capacity for polyphony and moral inquiry.
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