Romance genre is one of the most popular genres across the world. People prefer reading it for intense characterization and a farrago of emotions. In a romance novel, it is always tough to tag the emotions, as readers easily find themselves swaying up and down with the tide of emotions. Well, this novella ‘I Want to Run Away’ by Deepa Iyyer is slightly offbeat and different in its semblance. It’s a romance novel, but differs in its intensity and other elements.
This novella is based around Aashika – a young girl from a small village called Valayapuri, located somewhere in the interior part of South India. She is a college student, but at the same time very ambitious about her love choice, career choice, and not to leave out freedom in her lifestyle. Dreaming big is not a sin – however it may be in her village where people are still quite remote by the way of life, and technology has very marginal intervention and women are reckoned nothing more than slaves. If you read the story, you will get the feel that the backdrop prepared by the author for her lead character, Aashika, is nothing better than a barren land. How will she survive and move ahead in her life? How will she race ahead to fulfill her hidden desires and dreams? In her opinion, the answer is moving to a faraway city. She is of the opinion that if she runs away to a kind of big city, she may get dominance over heaven i.e. job, money, freedom, lifestyle, life partner (boyfriend, husband, and so on). Remember Bollywood movies like Jab We Met and DDLJ. A kind of fusion and heady mix of romance and Bollywood spice is evident throughout the story.
In a sense, she is right to do that. But the question is, will she get everything as she has been planning since long? Maybe yes….maybe not? That’s the thrill in the novella. Coming to other side of the novel, we see the grim side of her family. Her family is totally patriarchal and orthodox by roots and cultural lineage. She has two more sisters – she is the middle child. Elder sister had some bad luck with marriage and the younger one is studying and probably doesn’t understand the world that Aashika holds in her mind. Both are different but lovingly close to each other. Her father is a strict man, who believes in all the rituals and customs of the society. He is hell-bent to get Aashika married off. He opposes love affairs, freedom of women, love marriages – imagine what kind of stoic he is?
As the book starts, you see that guys come to see her for marriage. Aashika plays her tantrums and successfully manages to drive them off. However, things go little awry when Sanjay visits her. She finds herself in dilemma. That guy seems to be a good fit for her. They interact and hang around and form a respectable understanding. What next…will she give up her plan of running away and succumb to this smart guy – Sanjay? That’s another interesting story among all mini stories.
It is bit late to introduce this rich and boastful brat Aadhi, well he also plays a vital role in rolling up and down the story. Aadhi and Aashika have an affair. But midway Aashika realizes that Aadhi is a wrong choice as he wants her to confine to the homely chores after the marriage. As the love story of Sanjay and Aashika fosters, this guy Aadhi creates unavoidable troubles. Aashika’s life screwed up. And there are more than one reasons for that. Will she be able to make a comeback?
As the author claims that it is a light romance novella, yes… she is totally true to her stance. Other than the main story, the way Deepa Iyyer humorously challenged and made fun of male chauvinism is not less than glittering gold. Remarkably, humour has never been lost. At times, you may roll up and down with laughter goose bumps, just look at this excerpt and you will find the praise justified…
“So many families came forward with marriage proposals for my Rajesh. I even know two families who fought with each other to get their daughter married to him. ‘Rajesh is ours…Rajesh is mine…’ the families kept fighting. I distinctly remember, there was this one family, a very rich mill owner, who literally staged a dharna at my place!” Rajesh’s mother touched his cheeks gently after revealing details of the modern day swayamvar and that effeminate ass tittered in glee.
Writing style – yes Deepa Iyyer is a prolific writer with good command over language and situation handling. Anytime, it is a well-written and well-edited book. If she manages to write more light romance novels, though slightly inspired by Bollywood stuff, no doubt she can rule this league in India. Overall, a good book to be finished in one sitting.