Paro Anand is the award-winning author of books for young readers and known for promoting literacy and children’s literature. Pure Sequence, her first novel for adults, is a light-weight tale about four feisty, grey-haired Punjabi card-players.
Using homespun wit and unpretentious language, this little book manages to beam out a more robust message about women’s empowerment than any I’ve read recently. Tosh, Kunti, Sheila and Satya have their little spats, but for the most part they’re like pebbles grown smooth from long-term contact. When they celebrate Satya, the spinster school teacher’s 70th birthday, they allow themselves a weekend sleepover with a cholesterol-rich banquet and porn films for dessert! As an encore, the next day, they schedule a session at a fancy spa. The four friends have never before seen one another’s sagging and wrinkled naked bodies; for a moment they’re paralysed with embarrassment. Then, as their whoops of laughter ring out, their inhibitions are swept aside in clouds of steam.
Secondary themes involving property battles, uncaring children and the mandatory closet-tragedy are tucked in. Anand’s flair for description and experience as a story-teller come in handy for keeping the narrative taut. I found the tone of emotional exchanges too shrill and the dependence on kitchie-koo Punjabi-isms like road-blocks. Nevertheless, her message about the rewards of friendship deserves warm attention.