It is the ultimate nightmare, when someone you really love and care about not only disappears, but seems to have done it willingly, without any care as to the devastation they leave behind. This is the story of Aditya and Meher, and what happens after Aditya leaves the bed he shares with his loving wife and walks out, disappearing without trace.
The chapters are told in timeline snippets which go back and forth, gradually telling the story of a marriage that seems perfect on the outside, but in reality is anything but. Despite the unusual story layout it is surprisingly easy to follow, with some chapters being told from the point of view of the families as they try to make sense of what has happened. It makes for a tense read and really works, thanks to the great storytelling of the author.
Set in contemporary Dehli, the story is also that of two Indian families, close-knit, brought together by the marriage of Aditya and Meher, but with tensions running under the surface that eventually come to light. There are fascinating insights into their family dynamic; the stigma of mental health, the secrets, the interfering, the passionate desire to support but confusion as how that should actually happen. I could see them clearly, the fathers sitting back, nonplussed, as the women argue it out. I could feel Meher’s isolation as the chaos raged all around her. The reader senses her burning resentment, all concealed under an icy composure that was eery for a young woman.
As the story progresses, it becomes more sinister with the appearance of Shamani, a psychic who claims she can find Meher’s husband. The reader is led down a sneaky path, meaning the ending is a complete surprise. I honestly didn’t see it coming, although in hindsight, there were clues.
Finally, the writing is beautiful, unusual to be sure but graceful and alluring. It pulls the reader through the book, beguiling them, mystifying them, and finally shocking them. Although the book is a standalone, I could very much see a sequel. It feels as if there is much more to Aditya and Meyer’s story, and her family and friends are a real treat.
Aditya and Meher are a young couple with a happy marriage, devoted families, and partially-bearable jobs between them. Or, so the appearances would have you believe. At least, that is what Meher believes till one morning, she wakes up inside a cloud of doubt to realise Aditya had gone missing without a trace or warning.
Aside from the fear and frustration, doubt and paranoia, exasperation and rage, Meher feels isolated amongst friends and family, who she believes, hold her guilty of his disappearance. She resorts to unusual means to find her answers. After months of relentless effort, is Meher successful? Does she find the right channels to reach him? Is she right in feeling abandoned, and not just by Aditya? Is there someone close who is trying to sabotage her life? Is she the reason behind her own misery? Is her husband in trouble or has he simply opted out of their marriage? Were they ever happily married? Who can she trust?
Get on the passenger seat with Meher to find out how much pressure she can take before the lines blur between imagination and reality. Talking about reality, how much do we really know about the people we share our lives with? Could they walk out on you while you sleep? A few months ago, Meher would have laughed at this question too.