In Chowdhary’s (Facets of Love, 2014) novel, a handsome, successful Indian man suffers delusions of infidelity concerning the women in his life.
“God has made me a perfect man with hardly any scope for refinement!” crows Aadir “Adie” Chopra, 32, a director for an American bank living in India. But he’s also separated from his wife and lonely. How could this happen to a gem like Adie? His marriage to Presha, a heavy drinker, started off with them impulsively running away to Delhi. After a blissful year of married life, Adie celebrated by spending his life savings—$20,000—on renting an entire Indonesian resort for two nights: “for Presha, I could justify everything.” But there was trouble in paradise when Adie noticed Presha being friendly with a strange man, which he interpreted as “lecherous behavior.” He became morbidly obsessed with her alleged fidelity, despite having no evidence. He drunkenly bit off Presha’s earlobe; set a private investigator to follow her, who found nothing; and alienated his friends and co-workers. Then he brutally killed Presha’s pet rabbit in front of her. He finally lost his job, and Presha’s friends beat him up. His personal assistant, Nikki, helps him, and he repays her by becoming jealous and hitting her young son. At length, Adie consults a psychiatrist, who diagnoses a psychosis called “delusion of infidelity” and prescribes past-life regression therapy to remove the scars on his soul. The book’s depiction of morbid jealousy is psychologically acute. But however much readers accept the idea of past lives influencing psychiatric or character problems, Chowdhary never makes Adie—with his narcissism, grandiosity, selfishness, and cruelty—seem worth saving. She also misses an opportunity to locate Adie’s problem within a larger cultural pathology, as some 2,000 women are murdered every year in honor killings in India and Pakistan.
A perceptive portrayal of jealousy, but the reasons why anyone would be eager to heal Adie’s scars remain fuzzy.