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For the Love of a Man
by Amrinder Bajaj
Xlibris
reviewed by Wendy Strain

 

 

“It has been said that the loss of someone you love is not the greatest loss a person suffers; losing yourself in that person and forgetting that you are special too, is your greatest loss. Long had I been enslaved to one who did not value my worth. Now that I had broken free, I experienced the exhilaration of liberty. Never again would I endure so much for the love of a man. It simply wasn’t worth the price I had to pay.”

Filled with rich imagery, beautiful prose, and an occasional poem to more fully express the more overwhelming emotional moments, this is the story of a woman torn between fulfilling the ideals she was raised to believe in and answering an internal need to experience life to greater depth. As the eldest daughter of a family already marred by controversy, the narrator reveals how a happy childhood helped instill beliefs that would guide her through the rest of her life. While these beliefs guided her into becoming a strong, capable, and loving woman as well as a talented and dedicated doctor, they also served to bind her into a loveless marriage and a thankless family.

Ironically, the bindings are crafted of ties named family, honor, and duty, none of which seem afforded to her by any of the people in her life. More than simply taking everything she had to offer while offering no comforts in return, the people in her life took everything she earned while actively alienating her even from her own sons, ensuring her life was as isolated and lonely as it could possibly be.

The story reveals how the strict social structure of late-20th century India severely limited the opportunities and freedoms of women even when they were highly educated and successful professionals. While some women were beginning to break free of the traditional bounds, others, including the narrator in this story, remained trapped within the bounds of social expectations. Through her story, the narrator demonstrates how the reward of remaining true to these traditional structures are expected to be a smooth and satisfying life, but such is not the case. When one is choked of all joy and possibility in life, is it better to grab for the oxygen mask or allow oneself to die? In presenting her story, the narrator here poses these questions without apology or justification. Whether right or wrong, she has found her humanity and has found peace with it, learning that happiness and fulfillment come not from without, but from within

RECOMMENDED by the US Review


Title: For the Love of a Man
Author: Amrinder Bajaj
Publisher: XlibrisUS
ISBN: 9781524593537
Pages: 376
Genre: Romance/Women’s Interest/Self-Discovery
Reviewed by: Tiffany Ezuma

There are two kinds of choices you make in life: those you make for yourself and those you make for others. Too often we make decisions based on the best interest of others, even if that comes at the expense of our own happiness. For the Love of a Man by author Amrinder Bajaj, she tells the story of one such dilemma and one woman’s journey to find her own happiness and make her own choices.

The novel’s protagonist, Amrita, is forced to enter an arranged marriage; despite the fact she loves another man and wants to marry to him. This situation isn’t uncommon though in the culture she lives in, as she eventually submits herself to the marriage given that reality she doesn’t have a choice if she wants to be considered a good woman. Author Bajaj is particularly adept at illustrating Amrita’s internal struggle as the readers, from different cultures, are taught a good understanding of the forces which are used to make a woman agree to such an arrangement. Even when, in this case, her heart wants someone different.

Soon after Amrita is officially married she begins to fall into the trap of trying to be a perfect wife while living up to societal pressures which aren’t akin to whom she is a person. The author does an excellent job with the dichotomy of Amrita’s feelings, which sheds a fascinating element into this story. As often is the case, Amrita’s unhappiness eventually leads to a passionate affair, but complications with that relationship begin to threaten all of Amrita’s relationships. This situation leads Amrita to make a life changing decision – having to rely on her own inner strength to get through the hard times.

Semi-autobiographical, this novel pulls on the author’s experiences to build a rich, wholly developed character in Amrita. She is a protagonist we see grow from the start of the novel all the way to the last page. Her journey feels unique to her particular circumstances, but at the same time, there are bits and pieces most women could pull examples from their own lives, understand and relate to and learn from. Because of this, For the Love of a Man makes the perfect reading selection for a women’s book
club or anyone looking to find a bit of inspiration. This is a book which will be remembered long after finishing, as well as perhaps change one’s outlook on the custom of pre-arranged marriages.

 


FOR THE LOVE OF A MAN
Amrinder Bajaj
XlibrisUK (379 pp.)
$31.60 hardcover, $18.29 paperback, $2.99 e-book
ISBN: 978-1-5245-9353-7; September 30, 2016

 

An Indian woman falls for an irresistible man who isn’t her husband in this romance novel.

Bajaj (Afternoon Girl, 2013, etc.) offers a heart-rending story of love and strife. Born to an Indian Air Force pilot and a wealthy mother, Amrita Kaur Arora is straightaway nicknamed “Rosy” for the color of her cheeks. Rosy’s family is nominally Sikh, but not very religious. She grows into a rebellious teenager who fasts on Mondays, loses herself in Hindi films, sports a bindi, and finds herself drawn to Maharashtra men. Her father, however, is determined to marry her to a Sikh of his choosing. She battles prejudice to earn a gynecology degree at Nagpur Medical College. At her first post-collegiate job, she falls for a brilliant, gentlemanly colleague, but her father will have none of it—he’s dead set on coupling her with an ineffectual man whom she calls “MS.” She feels nothing when MS touches her and she’s miserable on her wedding day; her bridal bed is covered with laundry, and MS forgets to give her a muh dekhai—a formal, ceremonial introduction to his family members. Soon, her passions wander and she begins an affair with the husband of one of her patients—a man with “an unbelievable libido and incredible staying powers.” Bajaj arrestingly evokes the splendors and deprivations of India in the second half of the 20th century, and makes a penetrating case for women forced into marriage and who can’t even spend the salary that they earn. Although Rosy too often finds “neither sympathy nor understanding” from the men in her life, including, eventually, her own son, Bajaj all but guarantees that she’ll find sympathy from readers as she struggles with both her desires and the potential collapse of her family.

A passionate, absorbing story of love, rejection, and the burden of tradition.

 


Amrinder Bajaj – For the love of a man- Book review

by Munmun Bhattacharjee

 

 

“All I ask of you is to Tread the path I travelled Bear what I have borne Pass through storms That passed through me. Live the lives I’ve lived before you judge me or condemn”.

The first half of the book is a series of satirical comedy with moments so funny that you would want to laugh out loud (at least I did). The writer Amrinder Bajaj, takes us on a roller-coaster journey of the typical Indian family and culture system. The start is slow and more detailed than needed, but the way she has portrayed Amrita’s academic life (the female protagonist), one is bound to fall in love with the intricate details. Amrita’s life seems complete in itself before she gets married.

The book provided fun, drama and satire all at the same time which is bound to keep readers glued. But, after the protagonist is married off to a stranger by her father, the real gist of the story begins. Amrita’s life takes a turn from bad to worse to ultimately worst. Her husband, whom she calls MS, is nothing short of a nightmare for any married or about to marry woman. Being stuck with this boring, good for nothing husband (who even gets into serious debt which is covered by Amrita), Amrita suffocates and decides to a commit the biggest sin a married Indian woman can commit; an extramarital affair (although any affair by anyone at any place of this world is not justified, but the aim here is to focus on the Indian society).

As she tries to balance all side, she starts losing ground and feels lost and lonely all the time.

Finally she breaks under all the pressure and decides to take a divorce to live with her new found love but things don’t go well and in the end she is left with her ‘unfathomable-typical-Indian-male-egoistic-type’ of husband and a society that shames her and practically threatens the third lover in the scene, for his life.

Nor her family, nor anyone else understands that what she had become was not something she chose herself but what life and her husband had made out of her. Even her sons despised her after being brainwashed by their father.

In the end Amrita escapes to the Himalayas and returns only when she realizes the true way of staying sane and happy. This book is a real ride as it first gets you on a high waves and then suddenly throws you in a trash can.


Amrinder Bajaj – For the love of a man

by Dailyexcelsior

 

Sunny Dua

For the love of a Man is tale of a girl who rises to become a successful gynaecologist but during her prime youthfulness intends to break shackles of her ‘almost failed’ marriage only to fall for a man who never was on the same page but certain forbidden desires and obsessed similarities for freedom, love, lust, independence, revenge from life and of course success brings the couple closer only to part ways after everything including the ‘mirage like’ life collapses like a pack of cards.

In between, the main character Rosy takes readers back to her childhood days spent in schools, colleges and at her paternal and maternal homes where anecdotes ranging from humour, conspiracies, affection, parenthood, ancestral homes, infatuation and career building steers readers into a glorious and pious past. Finally, unable to find solace in worldly affairs she, somewhat like Buddha leaves home only to travel to hills for an introspection to bring in some relief to her soul and for inner peace and tranquillity that eluded her throughout these years of “Unrest”.

Advocating feminism, the book also revolves around how a woman singlehandedly takes on worst of the situations head-on and emerges strong enough to raise her children, stay in muck like marriage, discharges her responsibilities and simultaneously makes a career. Like Yashodhar, wife of Siddhartha Gautama – The Buddha who preferred to stay single and satisfied with the virtue that she needed no one to complete her, Rozy also tries to do the same but in the end preferred to imitate Buddha and heads towards hills to find consolation.

Strange are the characters, locations, relations and anecdotes in this book that overlap lives of several people in real life which the doctor writer, Amrinder Bajaj has dubbed as work of fiction. Still strange are the lessons of life that the lead role, which by chance imitates a real life ‘Hero’, prefers to learn by her own experiences and didn’t get a single shoulder to lean on. Had she found one, either there would have been no book or several sweet and sour stories of a joint family had flown out of the pen of author in an entirely different way.

The first few pages are devoted to paternal and maternal sides wherein the author had described grandpa of Rosy as debauch whose fidelity cost him his property and even a couple of few relations. This definitely is a subject that deals with genes telling how they are passed on to next generations and probably Rosy too, if not debauch, at least was woman of self respect but sexually active who needed an equally active partner to satisfy her lust and desire to live a complete life. And then this liberated woman instead of walking out of marriage or succumbing to social structure of a typical Punjabi family chooses to lead a parallel life with a nonentity.

This could be termed more a biography than a story telling novel or a book which has a message. In today’s world when extramarital relations or walking out of marriage has become order of the day, the gynaecologist Rosy prefers to stay put and makes a real mess of her life till she gets to believe that she had also been let down by everyone. Woven into simple words for the convenience of readers, the book is about the sweet girl who, away from a joint family, grew up in an atmosphere where she fell for every second boy that she came across; be it in school, neighbourhood, college or adjoining official accommodations wherever her father got transferred.

What went wrong that forced this girl to stray into this mad-mad world where she learnt all that usually is learnt from others’ experiences is worth a read. The writer could not skip names of a Jammu mansion called Haveli or its Kothri or central courtyard where Lohri was celebrated. This all fortunately matches her ancestral home and its surroundings that might be a coincidence but it speaks of the fact that she has cared to pour her heart into the book. Turns and twists in the life of this girl that pass through strange, painful, joyous, imaginative and filthy world which preyed upon her have been articulately portrayed.

Contrarily, feminism enables her to break shackles in this male dominated society and when it comes to facing the weird world there’s nothing in the end that could be treated or considered as a gain. The well woven story takes one from her childhood spent in filthy lanes of Jammu to Allahabad and Nagpur where she grew to become a doctor and finally Delhi – her work place where she faced best and worst of her world alone.

The bravest part of girl’s life is that she lived and not committed suicide. She chose to live on her own terms – right or wrong, she chose not to be cowed down, she chose to buy her own happiness, she chose to put her life and even marriage at stake for the love of a man which she craves not now and she chose to lose the faith of father, friend, son or lover but lastly proved that she complete herself by just being what she was.

Real or imaginative, the uncle who returned after studying abroad also found a passing reference in the book. Having heard and seen that he was more of a friend, mentor, guide a support to his nephews and nieces than just being an uncle, anything revealed to him would have put at rest the anxiety that led to this long drawn battle against a failed marriage, against system and a failed relationship that could bear no fruits except drawing momentary pleasures. The loss that she suffered was indeed colossal.

Despite that sweet memories that she cherished or the ones which still haunt her are worth a read. Her journey is arduous as well as pleasant but the turbulent waters in which she sailed are worth a message. There is no point feeling pity because despite poor treatment by in-laws and husband she lived her life to the full and claims to be successful but having fished in deep troubled waters just to satisfy her ‘lust and love’ is a message for others who would understand how easily a doctor was lured into sex life by a nonentity just because he had got money and manly looks. This sounds little atrocious.

A diehard fan of Khushwant Singh, she presumably has chosen to make her life public which is not an easy task but somewhere heart in heart I believe that a true story (hopefully) has unnecessarily been dubbed as work of fiction which shows that the life she played with was not worth taking a chance. These five lines of book speak of themselves:

After elusive shadows, long I ran,
Never again,
Will I crave the love of a man.
From now on it just my dog and me
And a book beneath a shady tree.

She was fortunate to have learnt a lot from her father about her ancestors but this one sided story cannot justify her stance about the family and its internal affairs especially corrupt grandpa. Had she read stories of Tumbleweed Smith – Under the China-berry Tree and Blood Brothers by M J Akbar this book could have been little more fine and interesting to read. I reiterate that had she found a shoulder to lean on, this book would have ceased to exist.

(The author is a practising gynecologist)

 


Amrinder Bajaj – When A Mighty Tree Falls

by Dailyexcelsior

 

Sunny Dua

Taking a leaf out of 1984 anti-Sikh riots, the versatile writer Dr Amrinder Bajaj, in her 30 chapter book titled “When A Mighty Tree Falls” has tried to sum up 30 years of unending agony in a single family story which if considered as facsimile of other heart-rendering violence and affected home-stories can very well bring to the foreground the fact that how painful it is to live and die with a wound which was given by own people in own land and without any substantial conviction that could have at least enabled the victims, if not live but die in peace. Post riots, many lived in pain and died in pain but in the name of justice what all they got were dates in courts and setting up of Commissions whose recommendations were never implemented.

Making Late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s words and I quote, “When a big tree falls, the earth shakes” as pivot after placing it right in the first twelve pages of her book, Dr Amrinder Bajaj has tried to let people feel the pain of how life changed forever after the fall of so called ‘Mighty Tree’ which resulted in noting but bloodshed and is till date compared with 1947 riots wherein mayhem had awakened demons in humans to fill up train bogies and ponds with corpses of fellow humans only to depict how much hatred they had for those with whom they had lived on same land since ages.

Dedicated to victims of racial discrimination, the author has portrayed Lajwant Kour alias Lajo’s journey from her small and peaceful village Sarholi to turbulent Delhi to widow colony to her dream home to Jail and then to her eternal lord’s home. Having suffered so much how Lajo dies in oblivion is a heart rendeing story told articulately. It’s a survival story of her love for her beloved, respect for her husband, commitment towards her religion and a sacrifice for her children which she is believed to have paid with her life. The happiness in this journey that she collected though didn’t last long yet Lajo is portrayed to have lived her life on her own terms.

Throughout her life, she confined a lot many secrets to her heart only to strike a balance with her relations and ensure that each one of them; be it her husband, lover, adopted daughter or son born out of her love affair stay comfortable in their respective zones. s The way this book reminded me of horrific account of how my father Dr S S Dua survived that gory night of 1984 only to return home in Jammu safe, I can surely say that every reader will be taken back to the era only to experience pain for himself. The book will also help affected ones to associate themselves with the story that has been beautifully crafted in this 177 page book.

The author has successfully been able to take one to experience how hundreds of widows and orphaned children lived their journey from once bustling Tirlok Puri to Tilak Vihar which was later called ‘Widows’ Clony (Vidhwa Colony). The book also narrates how the families were compensated in initial days with Rs 10,000 advanced for each head. Using typical Punjabi words and anecdotes besides portraying the rich culture, author Bajaj has done justice with riot victims, survivors, her writing and ethics while narrating a woman’s forbidden desires.

How militancy affected families in Punjab and simultaneously how small time happiness meant a lot to nuclear families has been beautifully described by the author. United by love and then divided by hatred and then again united by love is typical being of Lajo who loved her husband but longed for a child and got it from a Hindu neighbour who lusted on her. Lajo’s ordeal especially after riots wherein she raised her son with hatred towards a community is worth a read. However, when the lady gets to know about truth and role of his neighbour how she tries to reverse everything is again worth reading rather making into a film.

Though a single house has been taken as sample to showcase the fact as to how each and every house suffered yet the author has missed portraying many success stories of affected Sikhs who later on rose from rubble to rebuilt their empire brick by brick. Thirty three after the assassination of the then prime minister Indira Gandhi that triggered this story, the author takes one to the ground zero where Lajo’s husband was brutally murdered in the ensuing anti-Sikh riots and narrates Lajo’s ordeal in Widow’s Colony, perhaps the only one of its kind in the world.

Dr Amrinder Bajaj has meanwhile shown how big the loss was yet she has established that the hatred between Indus and Sikhs was ‘a creation’ and not ‘inborn’. The beginning of book quotes Human Rights lawyer H S Phoolka’s resolve, who is fighting battles for the anti-Sikh riot victims wherein he mentions Simon Wiensental’s 63 years hunt for Nazis who later gets a commandant nailed. This happens after 50 years of world War. Phoolka is mentioned to have said, “we will pursue justice with same spirit, for it is innocent citizens who are dead, not the law”.

 


Amrinder Bajaj's Book Collection