Book Review - The Wedding - By Imraan Coovadia
If there is anything called Instant love or the hand of destiny then this is it: These thoughts blitz through the mind of Ismet Nassin, when for the first time in his life, he spies Khateja Haveri, standing near a well as the train he is traveling by whizzes through a village. When Cupid’s arrow strikes, it can make people do strange things and Ismet is no different. Getting off the train impulsively at the station, and ignoring the hard truth that the next train is scheduled to arrive only a week later, he sets off in hot pursuit to win “the most beautiful woman in the world”.
Destiny is not all that straightforward however when Khateja Haveri, the reluctant object of his passion spiritedly declares “if you make me marry you, I swear I will make your life one long misery. You will know nothing but sorrow. You will wish how you had never been born, that is my promise to you”.
So begins the hilarious story of Imraan Covadia’s novel, The Wedding” set in South Africa and India. Based on the tales that the author heard in his childhood, the story is told in the voice of Ismet and Khateja’s grandson.
Soon we are flipping through the pages in anticipation of Khateja’s various moves to undermine him. Not to be deterred or defeated, Ismet takes on the challenge but it is harder that he expects. Destiny crosses his path once again when he sets sail for Africa in search of love and hope. Do the two finally come to terms with each other in this new country? The novel presents this theme while exploring ideas of exile, cultural assimilation and the nature of destiny.
Readers will delight in the eccentric characters of Ahmedu, the village idiot, Rashida, Ismet’s shrewd mother, supervisor Vikram Naidoo and his wife Pravina, Jayraj Reddy and his wife Roshni and Charm Soolal. The lives of these characters are summed up in Coovadia's own words, "I wanted to restore the other story - the oddity of the many different kinds of lives that existed under apartheid."
The beauty of the book lies in the originality of its prose: “in Ismet eyes, Khateja’s feet dusted with talcum powder seemed sliding like a teardrop, her shoulders seemed like butterfly wings on which she rubbed superior skin cream from a round tin. His view of Hyderabad as a grimy, enfeebled, hill set city, sun cudgeled, raisin peopled, and camel walked and rain drained draws images that are refreshing and are the real gems in the book.
This is a witty and entertaining read. A book lover’s delight !
About the Author
Born in Durban, South Africa, Imraan Coovadia attended Harvard College and has lived in the United States for twelve years. The Wedding is his first novel. He lives in Boston, MA."
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