The Age of Shiva
By Manil Suri
It is India, 1955: as the scars of Partition are just beginning to heal, in Ramjas College, Delhi, seventeen-year-old Meera is enraptured. In a spotlight, a handsome young man, Dev, is singing a song that is redolent with a longing, a hunger, that is thrillingly new to her. Beside her sits her older sister Roopa: the favourite, the beauty, her fairness tonight enhanced by clusters of gold at her ears, and a glossy streak of forbidden lipstick. Later, jilted by Roopa, it is to Meera that Dev turns for comfort. Though their hasty marriage enrages her father, who has always been ambitious for his daughters, Meera takes on her new role without a murmur, suppressing her bitter regret, obedient to her new in-laws, fasting according to Hindu ritual and tolerating Dev's drunken night-time fumblings. A move to Bombay, so Dev can chase his dream of success as a Bollywood singer, seems at first like a fresh new start, but as that dream - and their marriage - turns to ashes, he is more often to be found gazing into the bottom of a glass at Auntie's Place than in a recording studio. But when their son Ashvin is born, everything changes. A sweeping epic that follows the fortunes of one family as it follows the fortunes of India in the violent aftermath of Partition, "The Age of Shiva" is the powerful story of a country in turmoil and an extraordinary portrait of maternal love.