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Desperations of a Hindi serial housewife

By Neshmeen Faatimah

Dear Diary,
I got married today. I do not know who my husband is or what he is like, except that he looks very cruel and is very rich. It is my first day at my in-law's house and already I have learnt so much. There are thirteen members in the family in total but I don't know all their names yet. The house is an excessively large mansion, garishly lavished with gold paint everywhere. The creators of this house evidently had money, but little taste. I have been told that I am to wear my expensive fancy ornamented sarees all day, along with heavy makeup and jewellery so that I am always ready to attend a party at a moment's notice. They have gifted me an endless supply of these sarees and jewellery and I am not allowed to wear any of them twice. Ever. I am also to sleep and work in this attire. Speaking of work, there is an incongruous absence of maids in this house. These people seem to possess a lot of wealth, but for some odd reason, we bejewelled wives have to take on the daunting task of doing all the work. We are to tend to the doors, cook, milk cows and make tea for everyone. All in the fancy clothes, of course. My, my, what hell we have to go through. Funny thing happened today. While I was locking the door after the vegetable-seller left, I overheard my step sister-in-law speaking on the phone two feet away. She couldn't see me for some reason and was laughing in an evil dramaturgical manner saying that revenge was finally due. I wonder what she could be referring to.

Dear Diary,
My husband went missing today. His car was found destroyed at the bottom of a deadly cliff, but there was no body. To think that he was really beginning to fall in love with me. There is drama in every corner of the house and everyone has sensational expressions on their faces. Makes me feel like the odd one out. Two police officers dropped by in the afternoon and stated that I was under arrest. But they didn't have a warrant or something to charge me with, so I refused to go with them. From the stumped expressions on their faces when I did this, it seems like no one is aware of their rights here.

Dear Diary,
After twenty years of living as a widow, a strange man showed up today claiming to be my husband. Everyone is elated but they refuse to listen to me when I say that this man looks nothing like my husband. The man says that he was driven off the cliff and was badly wounded when a poor family took care of him. He had to have plastic surgery for his wounds and had amnesia for twenty years when a doctor miraculously treated him with a stethoscope. But how a poor family can afford plastic surgery for a complete stranger and how plastic surgery can change a man's height and teeth is beyond my comprehension. He also hasn't aged a day. Except for the three grey strands of hair on his head, you'd think that he grew younger even! Speaking of age, my saas's family seems to have the most amazing anti-aging powers. My saas herself, who was 70 when her son went missing, does not look a day older. I feel like the oldest person in the family now. But the issue with my husband is the strangest thing. He can't even prove his identity by imparting with some memory that only he could know about. Everyone is convinced that he really is who he is saying he is. Except for my step sister-in-law, who says that it is simply not possible because of reasons only she knows about.

Dear Diary,
I'm at the hospital. I've been poisoned, shot in the chest and pushed down the stairs, but the good doctor saved me. He gave me an oxygen mask for the poison and stuck a band aid at the corner of my forehead for the gunshot wound. A little bewildering, but incredibly miraculous, I would say. They didn't take off the fancy saree or any of my makeup and jewellery, however, and it is turning out to be incredibly uncomfortable. I don't remember anything. The doctors say that I was in a coma for three years…

Looking for Alaska

Author: John Green
By Numaya

A slow-to-the punch, yet extremely gripping debut novel by John Green, Looking for Alaska, is one of those books which continue to affect us long after we have put it down. Separated into two parts - “BEFORE” and “AFTER” - with a twist in the middle, this novel asks and answers some tough, controversial questions.

Before: An unsocial sixteen-year-old, Miles Halter (Pudge) has a strange fascination with the last words of great men. Author François Rabelais' enigmatic last words “I go to seek a Great Perhaps” inspire the sixteen year-old to leave his safe life at home and enrol in Culver Creek, a co-ed boarding school in Alabama. Pudge is the stereotypical odd kid: chicken-leg skinny, undeniably bright, and a bit of an idealist at heart.

He is quickly befriended by a strange group of people - his roommate Chip, romantic Romanian girl Lara, with her strange habit of mispronouncing words with “I” and Takumi, a clever, humourous Japanese boy. They introduce her to Alaska, the beautiful girl who “had eyes that predisposed you to supporting her every endeavor.”

Alaska's carefree nature, everlasting smile and sly ways entice Pudge. He delves into a world he never imagined before - running away from classes, sneaking to the lake to grab cigarettes, pulling pranks constantly. Alaska is the embodiment of all things self-destructive and screwed up, but also the epitome of utmost beauty and by always living on the edge she launches Pudge into his long-awaited “Great Perhaps” and steals his heart in the meantime.

After: The purpose behind the slow, rambling and somewhat clichéd “before” section is revealed, as the course of the story is completely shifted and the deeper meanings are addressed. This thought-provoking, and spellbinding last section really makes every bit of this novel extraordinary. The characters spend their days trying to figure out the mystery which overshadowed their lives, and answer questions about the true meaning behind life.

It's surprising to critics that such an engaging, mature, and complex novel was directed towards high-school students, but Green's purpose was to help teenagers grow by introducing them to serious topics in an engaging way. “Looking for Alaska” is a book exploring religion and its applications to our own lives and thoughts. The book centres on Miles's lessons with Dr Hyde, a World Religion teacher who opens Miles's mind to consider the world through the ideals of religion and philosophy. He teaches him to be aware of the present, and listen and talk, rather than over-think the future.

Green was awarded the 2006 Michael L. Printz Award (for excellence in young adult literature) for “Looking for Alaska”, which is deserved by this gorgeously written, passionate and hilarious novel. The stories of these vividly beautifully portrayed characters - bad kids at times and touching at others - help readers deal with self discovery. The audience will be grinning, laughing and crying throughout the book but mainly they will fall in love with Alaska's vanilla-and-cigarettes scent and optimistic ways, and stay enticed till the very last page.



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