Hiraeth (Happiness and Before) by Ritika Kanodia is a novel on nostalgia, homecoming, emotion turmoil and various shades of life that we get to know as when move out and wide in life in pursuit of our happiness, goals, and aspiration.
When I came across this book on Amazon, I was nonplussed to find the significance in the flower of the cover page. It is Delilah flower, which depicts a lot of shades of life. Is our life like a Delilah flower, full of intriguing hues of happiness and sorrows?
Well, the novel is about one modern young Indian girl, her name is Raya. As the story opens up, I found her travelling to Australia with a lot of thinking going in her mind. It takes time to collect her set of thoughts and the story that springs from it. She is going to Australia for doing an MBA degree, but as I keep reading the book I got to know that she wanted to go away from her home due to marriage and other societal reasons. She chooses to be alone and away from home rather than surrendering herself. Raya is portrayed a silent but strong character. There are a few streaks of feminism in the story but that is fine as the protagonist is a 24-year-old young girl.
Read the book to know her fate in a foreign land? Will she be able to pacify her contrasting thoughts related to abroad and nostalgia for homecoming? How will she adopt in a new ambience? Will she get a proper support or is it going to be a solo ride for her.
As I said, one needs to closely follow the protagonist and her thinking pattern to get under the skin of the novel. I will not say the narration was smooth rather I had to dig deeper to be with the pace of the story. There is a reverent silence in the story and underlying themes that can either make or break the mettle of a person. Overall, I had quality time reading this book. I was able to get under the psychological chasm of the novel. I would rate it 4 out of 5.