The Chosen by Usha K.R steers clear of clichés, but manages to stay convincingly relatable and appealing.
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The first thing that caught my attention was Usha’s descriptive writing. Although this story is based in Bangalore, it was really not difficult to picture the everyday life and surroundings of Nagaratna. In fact, I could clearly see the crowded and bustling market streets, the busy shops and the lower-middle class dwellings replete with the sights and sounds of such environs. I have shopped in such shops, walked down such streets and visited such dwellings – therefore it was easy to relate to the described life of Nagaratna. Usha’s attention to the minute details is highly evident and she beautifully weaves an interesting tale.
Nagaratna, yearns to go beyond the squalor and mediocrity of her surroundings and the people currently in her life, be it the gossipy neighbourhood women, her ardent admirers or her shallow friends. In direct contrast to Nagaratna’s upbringing and social standing, is the school where she joins work as admin personnel. An island of tranquility and a sophisticated beauty, it is everything that Nagaratna has longed for. She idolizes the Principal, Miss Pandit. Nagaratna is swept away by the classy and suave Miss. Pandit, who seems to have clever answers and clear solutions for everything. In fact she seems so smitten by the lady, that at times I was almost scared that the story would morph into some lesbian love story. Thankfully it doesn’t. (No offense to lesbians; just that, that was not why I picked up this book.)
Speaking of clichés, I was equally glad that Nagaratna’s sis-in-law is not some kind of stereotypical, selfish shrew who is jealous of her or who quarrels incessantly over petty matters with her mother-in-law. Instead she happens to be a friendly and supportive person, which of course is good. Neither is the mother-in-law a bully and both share a cordial relationship. Also the school is run by a spiritual ashram with all the yoga, dhyanam, holistic healing gyan attached to it. So again I was a tad worried that it is going to turn out to be some kind of “Hare Rame! Hare Krishna” -hippies-who-get-exposed-as-a-sham story. Again, thankfully it wasn’t. There is also a love story thrown in between Nagaratna and the much elder Vasant. Although not exactly a satisfying love story, again I was thankful that there was no sordid details of naïve-girl-taken-advantage-of-by-bad-man-and-got-pregnant kind of stuff. Grateful to Usha for not putting it such done-to-death and lame digressions.
I am a kind of person who dislikes tragic endings. No matter how much tragedy happens in a story, I would much prefer it, if everyone is happy at the end. The Chosen is not really a tragedy. I would say, maybe it is a realistic story. This is not a fairytale and no one sails into the sunset to live happily ever after. I presume Usha didn't want a cliche in her ending either. So I guess the ending did not totally appeal to the impractical dreamer that I am, but I can quite see the practicality of it.