Author: Neelima Vinod
Price: Rs. 175/-
The novella – ‘Unsettled’ is a journey of unsettled souls to the ‘Scrolls of Love’. The author has very smartly and at the same time very beautifully connected her childhood folklore with the contemporary example of an unsettled couple of her creation.
The story begins as ‘Divya’ finds her husband – ‘Raghav’, consoling one of his old friends, whom she considers his girlfriend. The very sight of her husband embracing another woman takes her back to the old memory lane, when these were in deep true love with each other and leaves her – ‘Unsettled’.
The fire within provokes her to regain her lost love. When one of her society friends suggests her to visit a famous psychiatrist (who turns out to be a marriage counsellor for her) Dr. Ray, she does so. During her visit to the psychiatrist, she shares how much lost she feels and missed her love moments. She also shares with him, her grief that she usually penned in the form of lyrical poetry – this was what her heart was yearning to be heard by her love.
Divya, has a belief that the ‘Scrolls of Love’ that are protected by a woman in white-sari, are hidden somewhere, in a 100-room house that is located in her maternal village – Cherakad, could save her endangered marriage. Her belief is, based on the folklore she heard from her maternal relatives during her childhood. The folklore goes as; around 500 years ago, a famous poet – ‘Shankara’ visited their village and became a court poet. Later on, the Kingdom concubine – ‘Meenakshi’, failed him. He ran towards the woods aimlessly and then appears, ‘Thatri’ – a Yakshi. A ‘Yakshi’ is a paranormal woman with unaccomplished desires and waiting them to be fulfilled.
She took care of ‘Shankara’ and he once again was back drafting his prose. After some time, he was all over ‘Thatri’ and wished to move on from there but ‘Thatri’ would not let him go. One fine day, he was successful to run away from this 100-room mansion but could not take his poetry with him. She then cursed him that he will forget everything and will not be able to write again because all his poetry was inspired by her and within her only. These creations were the mighty, magical and yes, mythological – ‘Scrolls of Love’. It would not be an exaggeration if I say – the corner stone of the story.
On learning this background information, Dr. Ray suggests Divya to bring Raghav once to her clinic. She somehow manages to bring him along with her in the next visit. Dr. Ray convinces Raghav to accompany her wife to her maternal village. Therefore, left with no other choice, the duo visits the village looking for that house. Till-date, rumours are famous ‘Thatri’, who safeguards those ‘Scrolls of Love’ (what they are looking for) haunts the house. She was the same woman with white sari, which Divya has been dreaming of from quite some time.
Will they be able to gather the courage to visit the haunted palace? How will the villagers react on knowing their visit? How will they both react on experiencing the aura there and above all, how will this affect their personal relationship? What has these scrolls to do with their lives? Will they get what they are looking for? Does it really exist? What is the basis of the folklore? Are there ghosts and a ghostly experience waiting to give a deadly turn to their lives? There are so many unsettling questions that make this novella a worthy read. Try on!
I liked how the author has made a perfect balance of two stories running parallel from different times – one originates from a village-based folklore while another is modern day story of an unsettled couple on quest of their lost love. She is a published poet and used her lyrical skills beautifully within the lines. In addition to the poetry, she has used her skills to create a thriller-haunting story she gives an eerie feeling.
She has not drafted a simple ghost-based story with haunting ghosts rather she has made a nerve-ranching story to re-ignite love in unsettled minds and unsettled love. She has respectfully made an attempt to give voice to the inner desire of a woman who is far away from the real world and is totally misunderstood. Kudos!
I recommend this novella everybody who feels unsettled – in love, in life, in heart or in thoughts. Are not we all unsettled in a way or another? Therefore, I recommend you to give it at-least a try to find answers to your unanswered questions.
About the characters:
Divya and Raghav: an unsettled couple visiting their ancestral village searching for scrolls of love.
Dr. Ray: a psychiatrist mentoring Divya but strangely a having a keen interest in the scrolls of love.
Shankara: a banished royal-court poet; he is the one who wrote the Scrolls of love.
Thatri: A Yakshi haunting the 100-room house located in Divya’s maternal village. She is the one safeguarding those scrolls of love.
‘Unsettled’ is a novella set in South Asia *starring* a vampire seductress who pines for a five century old love with a court poet. The story begins with a young Indian couple about to give up on their marriage. They learn that the Scrolls of Love in a faraway hundred roomed house in the southern tip of India could give them the love they so need to salvage their marriage. They do not know that a female vampire, a shape shifter woman in white, guards the scrolls and will not let them get what she never ever received- the elixir of love.
The story is part mythical and part supernatural, digging deep from the wellspring of the oral story telling tradition.