Return of the Gulmohar girl

ByNirupama Dutt
Sep 18, 2023 07:25 PM IST

Chetna Keer's sequel to her novel Giddha on My Gulmohar, titled Garnets Under My Gulmohar, was recently released to great acclaim. The novel follows the journey of protagonist Lolitta as she navigates a suspenseful saga, while also exploring themes of love and longing. Keer's skill as a writer is evident, as she seamlessly transitions from satire to suspense. The novel has already gained popularity among book clubs in Delhi and appeals to readers of all ages.

The ‘Gulmohar girl’ has returned with aplomb. The sequel to the lively novel Giddha on My Gulmohar is here, titled Garnets Under My Gulmohar. The novel was released to a full house of the literati, at an interestingly curated launch.

Author Chetna Keer releases her suspense saga, Garnets Under My Gulmohar (PHOTO: SANT ARORA/HT)
Author Chetna Keer releases her suspense saga, Garnets Under My Gulmohar (PHOTO: SANT ARORA/HT)

Ramesh Vinayak, Executive Editor, Hindustan Times, and Sumitra Mishra, chairperson of the Chandigarh Literary Society, were the guests of honour.

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Born and brought up in Chandigarh, the book’s author Chetna Keer grew up with the breathtaking beauty of the gulmohar blossoms that regularly burst out in late spring, lining the wide grey roads in abundance, spelling beauty and hope.

The blossoms of the Madagascar tree that made a happy home in the City Beautiful have become a metaphor for Lolitta, the protagonist of the novel, who continues her journey through the second novel that has a suspense saga at its heart.

The skilled writer, who is a columnist, a novelist, and a climate optimist all rolled into one, has moved with ease from satire to suspense as a storyteller of great imagination.

Once the reader has begun reading the saga, there is no putting it down. It is not just suspense that holds the heart but the very humane sentiments of love and longing that bring together the past and present with finesse.

We travel with Lolitta through the remnants of the British colonial past, the comforting composite culture of the pre-Partition Punjab, and the glittering charm of the present-day book clubs, waiting for Lolitta and her adventures eagerly as she walks in, her sari sweeping the ground and petals of gulmohar pressed in her book.

The author, who has earned a reputation of playing with language as a princess of prose and an artist of alliteration, takes the readers along for a merry ride, at times mixing the English language with matching words from colloquial Hindi, such as ‘enchanting ekant’, ‘khadi kinship’ and the all-knowing roshandan of the old colonial home in Delhi.

A character, travelling along with Lolitta, is the maternal matriarch, Vade Biji, an avid admirer of poets of the class of Amrita Pritam and Sahir Ludhianvi. Whether the garnets are lost or found is a matter for the reader to find out but in the process, a vast cultural canvas is painted in brilliant hues.

The novel has already captured the soul of book clubs in the capital city of Delhi and thus it travels, winning readers young and old.

Willy-nilly, one is left wondering what Lolitta will do next during the course of the story. Mind you, this Lolitta has nothing to do with the American novelist Vladimir Nabokov’s vulnerable little girl but a woman of substance who knows how to negotiate the seen and the unseen of life with childlike innocence and dreams.

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