Socha Bhi Na Tha – Love, Heartbreak & Marriage: Book Review | Told from the perspective of a man. Brings a vivid picture of love, marriage, divorce and the cultural differences. Thoroughly engaging!
Section 498A: Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty.—Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.
This Section 498A in the Indian Penal Code is perhaps the least discussed and most abused section in India today. While media and social media give enormous space for the #MeToo victims, we seldom see any stories of men who were harassed by women and their families by blatant misuse or abuse of some of the draconian laws in our legal system. There are almost polar perspectives about use and abuse of Section 498A. So here I’m no one to decide which of the two is is the correct perspective. What I’m saying here is that the author has written the book from the perspective of a man, who sees himself as a victim of the said section.
Sriman Narayanan, who authered “Breath Go Away and Other Stories”, has questioned the gender narrative being dictated by a set of humanity and told the other side of the story — The story from the perspective of a man. He brings a true to life story of love, marriage, divorce and the cultural differences between how divorces or annulments of marriages happen in India and in the US.
“Socha Bhi Na Tha” is the story of Shyam Venkat, a youth who is strong yet weak, loveable yet hated at times, intelligent yet dumb and most importantly, opinionated yet honest. He is caught between love-less marriage and marriage-less love. There are three girls in his life. The beautiful and immensely loveable Aditi Narang. The not so attractive and persistent Padma Lakshmi. The giggly, plain and unpredictable Annie Priya.
Sriman chooses a narrative style that reminds us of Venetian blinds. He keeps pulling the strings between Padma and Aditi in two segments, 1 and 2, with chapters that go 1.1 and 2.1 and 1.2 and 2.2, thoroughly interspersed till almost three fourths of the novel. It takes some time for the reader to understand the characters. When we get a hold over the narrative, we are already halfway through the 206 pages long book.
But “Socha Bhi Na Tha” is thoroughly engaging. It doesn’t lag and keeps the reader interested throughout. Using simple language and complex narrative technique, Sriman keeps us guessing between Aditi and Padma. Perhaps the need for brevity makes it appear abrupt in certain places.
On the negative side, the narration is pretty confusing till halfway. Shyam doesn’t waste any efforts to explain the reasons for his dislike towards Padma. Though the story is narrated by the male protagonist, the readers might end up feeling Padma gets a raw deal in her life as well as in the story. But perhaps, that is the real high point of the novel. There is some philosophy and verses from Gita, believed to be mandatory for novels these days.
On the positive side, brevity is the strength of “Socha Bhi Na Tha”. Extremely vital facts about divorce laws, section 498A and depression are woven into the story in an informative way without becoming intrusive. Simple language, short chapters and believable, down to earth characters make “Socha Bhi Na Tha” an endearing read.
An ill-timed mail, an ill-thought message and an ill-
placed sentence can make life take the unfathomable “Socha Bhi Na Tha” twist. Why Aditi suddenly distances herself from Shyam remains a mystery till the cathartic epilogue. Sriman Narayanan has improved upon his earlier book, “Breath Go Away”.
Overall, “Socha Bhi Na Tha” is a very decent book and is worth our time and money. It is not a book for everyone. But except for the lack of traction in the first half of the book and non-coherence in story at some other points, the book is thoroughly engaging.
I would rate it 3.5 / 5.
Details of the novel
Socha Bhi Na Tha – Love, Heartbreak & Marriage
First published in January 2019
Published by Srishti Publishers & Distributors
Registered Office: N-16, C.R. Park, New Delhi – 110 019
206 Pages (Soft Cover)
Cover Design: Mayur Garud
Price: Rs. 195/-
Available on Amazon and Good reads (Rs. 146)