Sreedharan’s unconventional debut love story is food for the inquisitive soul.
Sri Hari lives in his family home in the small town of Chennai, India. At the urging of a neighbor and friend, Sri Hari acquires a large house, called Krishna Vihar, just across the road. Though Sri Hari has no real desire to own this home, his loyalty to his friend compels him to purchase the property in the hope that he can rent it out to reliable tenants. The arrival of Ravi, Shanti and their teenage daughter, Devi, answers this wish. The family seeks spiritual assistance and divine intervention for Devi at the nearby Krishna Temple, as she’s become afflicted with an unknown condition that has caused her to become disinterested in life. As the family settles in across the street, Devi soon shows signs of getting better. Shanti praises Lord Krishna, believing the prayers and devotions must be working, as “there is an enormous improvement in [Devi’s] attitude and she is no more that introvert girl.” Devi becomes particularly attached to Sri Hari and seeks his company continuously. Sri Hari views her as he would a beloved granddaughter, but Devi has fallen deeply in love with him, even though he’s several decades her senior. Sri Hari and Shanti seek professional help for the girl as they try to understand her infatuation. It soon seems likely that Sri Hari’s past life may be part of Devi’s present troubles; at the center of the story is the idea of reincarnation, the Hindu belief that “our souls discard our bodies when we die like we change our old dresses for the new ones.” Sreedharan presents an intriguing mystery and an unexpected love story as he explores concepts of passion, spirituality and astrology. Although the prose is occasionally stilted, with some grammatical slip-ups, Sri Hari’s voice comes through clearly, particularly when he opens up about his past and reflects on his emotions. In one particularly poignant section, Sri Hari mourns a lost love, finding that “time may heal the wound, but the loss cannot be compensated.” Although the author presents a story of atypical, largely unrequited love, romance devotees may still appreciate its concept of unending, spiritual adoration. Overall, this thought-provoking journey may lead readers to explore not only their religious beliefs, but also their thoughts on the lasting power of love.
A short, intriguing novel of reincarnation.