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Gitanjali was drawn into a relationship with this charming younger man against her better judgement, but soon after marriage came up against his narcissistic, abusive side.
After I read Beguiled by Ruchika Soi, I was reminded of the myth of Narcissus and Echo.
This poignant myth crystallizes the tragic problem of relationships with narcissists. Sadly, both partners are locked in a painful drama, where neither feels satisfied or sufficiently loved. The narcissist tends to blame the cause on his or her partner, and sees him or herself as someone who is beyond reproach, and too often his or her partner readily agrees to his theory and echoes his thoughts.
Considering this book is true story about a divorce, I wondered if it would be a vituperative account of a victim. But what surprised me was the way the really tough going was handled by the author.
Gitanjali, the protagonist, meets the charming Randeep Singh Taneja and finds herself wooed by the younger man. Despite her skepticism, she allows herself to be swayed as their common interest in enjoying a walk in Lodhi Gardens or bumping into each other at a book store tilts the scale. His getting along with her eleven-year-old son seals the deal. Soon enough, against her better judgement or her inner voice rattiling the cage, she finds herself succumbing to his charm and finds herself walking down the aisle beside him.
And thus, we are taken into Gitanjali’s marriage with an occasional peek into her first marriage too. We get a ring-side view of how she readily supports and follows her husband both the first and second and tries her best to make both marriages work. The story takes us into their lives from Delhi to Mumbai and later into their lives in Dubai and London.
As she lives through her nightmare, we get a peek on how much a woman as a wife and mother puts up with and her pain becomes ours.
I would like to note here, that the problem with the relationship isn’t really with him being a younger man, but about him being a narcissistic person. It would have taken the same route even if he was older – I think this needs to be underlined, given that we as a society already stigmatise relationships between older women and younger men, and also are not completely on board with single moms getting into a relationship or re-marrying.
What worked for me while reading this book was the language, the honesty, the simplicity with which the story was told. The facts were laid out before the reader. We learnt about her struggles, her conflicts and her drawing strength from her family, friends and inner reserves. Nowhere does she play the victim card. The empathy we feel for the character is more organic rather than feeling forced.
Coming to what could be handled better, I felt part II was far inferior to Part I. The information dump could have been avoided as it turned a bit tedious after the racy read of part I. It was almost as if the writer wanted to inform the reader of the extensive study or research she had done on the subject or maybe it was more to inform the reader of what she was up against. As a reader, I had already drawn my conclusion on what she was up against and his narcissistic personality was all too evident.
Despite my reservations for part II, my rating would be 4 out of 5. It is a must-read for all those young men and women to know how an unequal power-game can play havoc on the innocent.
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Image source: a still from the series Made in Heaven and book cover Amazon
Chandrika R Krishnan, a Bengaluru-based writer and educationist likes all things beginning with a ‘T’ - talking, teaching, tales and tea.
Her 300-odd published articles, poems and stories are eclectic and mostly experiential and read more...
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