I wasn’t expecting much from ‘The Storm in The Silence’ a novel by Nikhlesh Mathur. My very close friend Mr Ajay Lal has asked if I would want to read and maybe review a book by his cousin. And that’s how one beautiful day an autographed copy landed on my table.
It remained there for some weeks as there were other books to read and I usually adhere to FIFO (First In First Out) while reading books outside my direct professional needs.
I am biased to debut novels and English novels by Indian authors. This qualified on both counts. My own debut novel ‘CHIMERA OF LANSDOWNE’ has recently been released.
‘THE SILENCE IN THE STORM’.
For a long time, ‘The Storm In The Silence’ stared at me from the shelf. Finally one day I picked it and started on a journey in the lives of stubborn discipliner Prof Krishnakant. He is getting retired and is wondering what he will do now?
He and his obedient son Arvind are unaware of what is in store for them. There is a storm being built. Krishnakant’s daughter-in-law and Arvind’s wife; Aarti, a woman with dreams and ambition, has been offered a job.
Krishnakant does not like it. He wants his daughter-in-law to be a housewife. He has in past too discussed and negated her dreams of working. In his mind, Aarti is stretching to bridge the income gap that has appeared with his retirement. Her husband Arvind refuses to utter a word in front of his father.
Aarti still decides to go ahead and take the job against everyone’s wishes and advice.
The powerful storm in the family finds its expression in kitchen, in the bedroom, on the dining table and all over the house. Suddenly silence descends on the house. It’s more deafening than any fight. Everyone has his or her own point-of-view. No one wants to cooperate or address the real situation.
No one has a real solution. Compromises are hinted at and promises are broken consistently. The storm in silence gains momentum.
This is the initial part of the novel ‘The Storm In The Silence’. Nikhlesh Mathur devotes time in developing the characters. Maybe he takes a bit too long for my liking. However, you end up knowing their framework and references as good as you back of the hand.
THE TWIST IN THE TALE.
The title and the initial chapters mislead the reader. The reader expects the story to centre on ambitious Aarti. The storm in the house to be further discussed and dissected. Situational dramas will build-up but the ending will be happy.
This is when the unpredictability of real life gets in the story. There are layers of unexplained and un-synchronised events at workplaces putting additional demand on her time. The family is polarising and breaking.
The job is asking for sacrifice, she is ready to give in. It is no longer about an authoritarian father-in-law, an obedient son and a daughter-in-law with wings to fly.
IT IS A DIFFERENT STORM.
Though her job is still the centre of the silent storm. There is something distinctively wrong in the organisation she is working. She is on-site when she decides to help a kid get education loan to pursue his dream of becoming a doctor. Unaware that it will suck her into another storm. She is not prepared to find battle at multiple fronts. She must find a way out.
Krishnakant is not giving an inch. He wants her to leave the job. Arvind, her husband is silent and not willing to She wants peace at home but now has her own conditions.
The management at work trusts her. They like her performance are unaware of what’s happening in her life. They plan to expand her role. She needs to take some hard decisions in her life. She knows it will deepen the silence and fuel the storm.
In her office, there is a senior employee she mistrusts. She has her reasons but no concrete proof to complain. Someone is stalking her and keeping an eye on her movements. And then the kid she helped goes missing. The fingers point at her. The police are now after her.
‘THE STORM IN THE SILENCE’ is complicated but fast-paced.
There is too much happening. The pages fly by. This is where Nikhlesh seems to be losing control. Chain of events is too coincidental. Aarti gets incredible circumstantial support in most situations.
The marital discord raises its quiet head time to time. Just in case you forgot where the story started. Otherwise, the book suddenly morphs into a Chase-escape-live-to-fight-another-day story.
Nikhlesh character development in the initial part of the novel is superb. He uses space to express. However, in the second half, characters enter and exit and there is no time for sketching them out. The fast-paced unveiling of layers and many unexpected twists keep you engaged and you don’t mind not fully knowing the characters.
READ ‘THE STORM IN THE SILENCE’.
Read ‘The Storm In The Silence’ for brilliant character development, interesting family conflict lines and self-constrained real-life representation. Feel the pace picking up leading to a complicated situation in the life of Aarti.
Read to know if the silence will be broken.
Will Arvind ever be on her side?
Will Krishnakant ever accept a working Daughter-in-law?
Will the police believe her or arrest her?
What is the fate of the missing kid?
Who is stalking her?
And finally, will the storm in the silence subside!
‘The Storm In The Silence’ By Nikhlesh Mathur. Published by BLUE ROSE Publishers. INR 346 Pages 382.