Diwali 1984. Mummyji, the matriarch of a prosperous mithai business family, lies comatose in a Bombay hospital. Manipulative, determined, and seemingly invincible, Mummyji has held together her family through bribes of money, endless food, and adoration.
Surrounding her are her four children: the weak and ineffectual Rajan Papa who is desperately in need of cash; Sunny, the dynamic head of the business with an ugly marriage and a demanding mistress; Suman, the spoilt beauty of the family who is determined to get her hands on Mummyji’s best jewels; and Saroj, Suman’s unlucky sister, who has always lived in her shadow. Each one of them wants Mummyji to die.
Aftertaste tells the story of one business family and its bitter dynamics: of resentful bahus, emasculated sons, controlling mothers-in-law, and rapacious siblings. For at the heart of family lies money, not love. Full of rare period details and insights into the world of Baniya families, Aftertaste is worldly, astute, and utterly riveting.
Aftertaste is a story about the Todarmal family, a quintessential baniya family settled in Punjab since a few generations, and hence adapted the culture in their living and lifestyle. Initially, reading about Todarmals and then their charcaters being referred to as Mummyji and Daddyji, typically used in Punjabi households, was a bit odd. This aspect take time sinking in.
I had read The Music Room and was so impressed that I picked up, Aftertaste. Frankly, I was disappointed. A saga of a business joint-family where the mother holds the reigns, the children are dissatisfied and constantly vying for more.
Daddyji is already dead when this story begins, and Mummyji is fighting for her life, in a hospital bed. The four children have their own troubles and situations in their lives. Only Mummyji has complete control over the money, but all four children need/want it. With Mummyji fighting for life, all four of her children and their families are secretly wishing/hoping for her death.
There is absolutely nothing new in the plot, and after a masterpiece like The Music Room, this was a tad disappointing. It's just the plot that was disappointing, the style of writing was enjoyable.
My rating: ***/5
ISBN : 9788184001877
Pub Date : 15 Sep 2011
Binding : Paperback
Price : 199
Imprint : Random House India
Subject : General & Literary Fiction
Extent : 320
[This review is for Random House India. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]