Think of Delhi and the first three things likely to come to mind would be traffic, pollution, and, of course, the extreme weather. Pick any one and you can guarantee it has been the reason to ruin an utterly ordinary day within the last 24 hours. If you happen to be a resident of this city, you’d probably have lost count of how many times that happened before you could make it past the half-week mark.
Delhi wasn’t always like this, though. My mother, having grown up here, often reminisces of wide, empty roads, lush greenery bordering the streets, and clean, breathable air. Her fondest memories are of long walks in and around Connaught Place, in the late 60s through the 70s. It was, perhaps, the opportunity to relive her youth that instinctively made me pick up this book.
It is 1974. Indu has inherited a flat from her grandmother and wants to turn it into a library for women. Her parents think this will keep her suitably occupied till she marries her fiancé, Rajat, who’s away studying in London. But then she meets Rana, a young lawyer with sparkling wit and a heart of gold. He helps set up the library and their days light up with playful banter and the many Rajesh Khanna movies they watch together.
When the Emergency is declared, Indu’s life turns upside down. Rana finds himself in trouble, while Rajat decides it’s time to visit India and settle down. As the Emergency pervades their lives, Indu must decide not only who but what kind of life she will choose.
Read my detailed review of the book, published on Women’s Web as a Featured Post, here.
Title: Once Upon A Curfew
Author: Srishti Chaudhary
Publisher: eBury Press by Penguin Random House India
Edition/Year: First Edition 2019
Source: Women’s Web
Rating: 3 Stars
Available on Amazon.
About the Author: Srishti Chaudhary studied creative writing from the University of Edinburgh and English literature at Lady Shri Ram College for Women. Previously, she had a series of short stories published by Juggernaut Books and the Glasgow Review of Books. Her articles have been published by BBC, Vice, Nat Geo India and the Hindu Businessline, amongst others. Her ideal day would involve a few hours of writing, a run in a big park with bigger trees, and some zumba. She wishes she had a cool signature, the apparent prerequisite to being a writer. She can be reached at www.srishtichaudhary.com.