Dev & Simran
By Eunice De Souza
Rs 195; Pages: 127
Described rather ambitiously as a novel, this is an indulgent (often witty) recollection of a gang of friends in Mumbai with a distinctly incestuous life. Ominously, one of them (the best-sounding one) dies suddenly as the novel opens, leaving behind a stoically grieving widow and several friends. They are a post-modern urban lot—some married, some divorced, others with interesting relationships—but dysfunctional in their own ways. Eunice de Souza deals racily with the brittleness of nuclear lives, the nervousness that precedes long-term commitments and the horror of complacent domesticity among independent young men and women.
She manages to pack an astonishing amount of strong stuff between the covers of this little book: death, widowhood, childlessness, despair, hatred. There’s straight narrative, dramatic monologue, even letters to a ghost. One suspects de Souza is a compulsive e-mail writer, one who needs to communicate each new idea immediately to someone out there. Sadly, the book lacks a strong core, a quiet centre that can hold the reader in its coils. It’s a quality that makes slimmer books than this novels in a truer sense. This is at best an e-mail wanting to be a novel when it grows up.