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Book Review: Mini Sukumaran Nair's B3/703, Gulmohar Park portrays a haunting descent into the vulnerability of childhood

There are books that blaze into your thoughts and here's a book that definitely stayed within me even after weeks of reading it, With its blazing red flower cover, Mini Sukumaran Nair's novel B3/703, Gulmohar Park, caught my attention in a bookshop. As a child, I grew up reading the books of Enid Blyton, RK Narayan and Anita Desai. Mini Sukumaran Nair's refreshing narrative brought back bittersweet memories of those growing up years. Right from the first page, I felt like I could curl up with this heartwarming novel. And just in case you are wondering, this isn't a novel that was sent to me for review nor do I know the author or its publisher. I just loved the book, that's it!

This heartwarming tale of childhood, family drama and tragic upheavals is narrated from the perspective of a little girl called Madhura, whose mother Vani is a maid in the home of an affluent Punjabi family and later on, through the perspective of her mother's employers, Avantika and Sirish. Their cultural differences are subtly woven into the daily drama between Vani and her affluent 'perfectionist' Punjabi employer, Avantika.  

A scene that got me cracking up is where Vani mistakenly fries chicken tikka in coconut oil and earns the wrath of her Punjabi employer for months to come! 

Quickly, things change for Avantika, Vani and Madhura, and that's when the narrative grows strong on the reader. Avantika's husband, Sirish, represents the kind of man every woman would dream of being married to. While not perfect, he has the sensitivity and sensibility that is required to handle the emotional upheaval that his wife is going through. Whether he agrees or not, he takes the bold step of standing by her and for her, even if it meant entering into a long drawn legal battle.

We suddenly find their lives, particularly Madhura's, on a downward spiral in life, we are torn by the troubles a little girl faces when she's left to fend the cruel world on her own and then she ends up in a place that is every parent's nightmare. 

The reader is never told why Avantika feels so strongly about the little girl who is her servant's daughter. But we are made to understand how even Sirish's family, liberal and large-hearted as they are, cannot accept Madhura as part of their family circle and in subtle ways, they continue to treat the girl as a maid. 

The word 'love' does not pop up but you can feel it. Every action taken by Avantika earns her the ire of her husband's family and her own circle of friends, who are conscious about doing 'charity' and keeping themselves at an arm's length if not more from the 'likes of maids and daughters'.[DO READ: Why LOVE Matters!]

Torn between an elitist society and her heart's longing to bring Madhura back into her life, the dilemma that Avantika confronts is a significant one. It clashes with her social standing, cultural differences and everything that her logical mind has prepared her for. The battle is not just internal but also legal. That this complication comes at a time when the couple are expecting their first child adds a dose of reality to the narrative, one that you cannot escape from.

[READ: How Parenting Affects Child Behavior: Watching Bee Season Taught Me Something Profound]

Yes, I knew Madhura is a fictional character yet beautifully etched by reality. The truth is that there are hundreds and hundreds of 'Madhuras' around us but we choose to ignore their existence. We are afraid of how the society and our loved ones decide to judge us, maybe even ignore our existence.

Mini Sukumaran Nair's novel, B3/703 Gulmohar Park presents a haunting descent into the vulnerability of a child's existence that we can't quite solve while trapped in our own limited spheres of  social snobbery and the misogyny that lurks within our society.

This is the kind of book that restores a reader's trust in humanity again. Do read it!


Muhammad said…
شركة تنظيف الكويت شركة رائدة في مجال تنظيف الشقق متحمسون حول الخشب ليكون لامعًا لجعل سطح الخشب مع تألق رائع خالٍ من البقايا والتربة ، لذلك هناك طريقة صحيحة لإنهاء الخشب بسيطة للعمل ومتصلة بخشب النهاية
شركة تنظيف
تنظيف منازل
تنظيف السجاد
تنظيف بيوت
تنظيف شقق
Rajeev Singhal said…
Thanks for the valuable information u have shared. I really liked it. Keep doing it.