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Book Review: A romantic novel that raises urgent questions on gender and society

BooksBook Review: A romantic novel that raises urgent questions on gender and society

Deadlock is a romantic novel probing the post-marital love-lust relationship of a man and a woman. It deals with a woman’s decision, her sacrifices, thoughts and her independence to create her own identity for a blissful life.

It has been from time immemorial that women’s empowerment, their independence, their liberty, sensuality, sex and rights have been a matter of discussion and debate in the Indian context. But with changing times, thought patterns took their own course—with women in contemporary society having emerged to turn the tables in their favour. They have proved themselves as leaders, decision-makers and above all lead life on their own terms.

The author, Sanjeev Shekhar, after presenting a realistic picture of the world of journalism in his debut novel, Beyond News, has come out with a fascinating and heartwarming story of a man-woman relationship in his new novel, Deadlock. He says he drew inspiration for writing from his father, the late Dr Shaligram Yadav, who was an educationist by passion.

The author here has attempted to delve into the issues that have always gripped the women folk, such as their independence, empowerment, sensuality, sex and rights in their personal life. This is the age of live-in relationships, one-night stands, and women driving the finances of the family, and even calling the shots in the professional sphere by setting the benchmark for others.

The emerging trend is linked to a change in the man-woman relationship. Institutions like marriage and extended family have taken a beating. This novel portrays women who don’t want to be seen as the weaker sex. The narration is such that it helps in identifying the “self rather than as man or woman”.

In most societies, women are still expected to obey the man-made rules. They are made to follow and believe in the unwritten patriarchal laws that function under the garb of religiosity and mythology. This book gives us the life stories of such independent women who are unwilling to compromise or go by the “rule book” of society.

The novel’s heroine, Misha, has her series of infatuations and love affairs. She does things, like fulfilling her sexual aspirations, responding to an inner call and without feeling any guilt about it. She is brainy, beautiful, self-dependent and financially well equipped to lead her life on her terms.

Deadlock has a strong message of love and bonding between mother and daughter, who turn friends at the time of need. The mother stands by her daughter. She is there to protect her dignity and does not allow her to go in a state of depression.

The author discusses the lives of Siddhi and Vinayak, both with different worldviews, and both part of a family drama in the later stage of the novel. Siddhi goes out of her way to fulfill the desires of her sister and family, and seeks support from her husband to cure her ailing sister. She gives birth to a baby to fulfill the desire of the sister. And the story moves on in a positive direction, thereby symbolising the sacrifice Siddhi makes for her sister’s happiness.

The novel triggers several questions regarding gender balance in our society, where women are seen as objects in all classes and segments. Do women have the right to fall in love at any stage of life? In this story, the heroine, Misha, falls in love at the age of 40 with, her childhood friend Shivraj, who is almost her age. Both are hiding their involvement with each other from their respective spouses. Both are sailing in the same boat. The question lingers, whether this love is justifiable.

The story line, plot and sub plot all synchronise well, except for few missing links at times. The novel overall is an entertaining read, written in simple language and conveys a strong social message. All these elements are weaved together into a fine story.

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