When I’ve started reading the novel The many lives of Ruby Iyer by Laxmi Hariharan my first reaction was-oh, so it’s the story of a girl next door, fighting against all odds, struggling and surviving in a hungry Metro city, detached from her family where thousands of greedy eyes following her every move, trying to exploit her in every possible way and ultimately she triumphs against all odds! I’ll read some fifty pages of it and then the storyline will get lot more predictable and finish the story to write a two three line a review. After all everyone has to attend some other business in addition of reading a bulky book.
I was wrong!
As I progressed deep into the story, the story itself started spinning a spidery web all around me-threads of the web only got thicker and thicker with increasing time. The story itself compelled me to finish the entire novel at one go and when I’d finished it-I was completely at loss of words for several moments! I don’t know what mesmerized me most-the neatly crafted storyline, the wonderfully narrated turns of events or the crispy way the author tells us the story or the combination of all blended into one! Every page turned, there were some unexpected turn of events, some surprises. Suspense in every page! The reader will find himself guessing-what‘ll happen next? And surprisingly there will be no answer! What makes a suspense thriller classic-is the main treasure of this story, it is thoroughly unpredictable yet the flow of the story is never distorted.
The curtain of the story is lifted amid curious mix of sounds-traditional and modern, in the bedroom with ‘old fashioned furnishings from the forgotten era’, of Ruby, (our protagonist of the story, trying to fight it out in Mumbai as a ‘lowly placed intern’ in social media marketing sector.), in a rented apartment ,living with Pankaj, her ‘best’ friend . Descriptions by author are so vibrant that you may get afraid that a splash of water from the Arabian Sea may make you completely drenched. Like Mandrake the great majician, our author can make you visualize characters by sheer brilliance of her narration. One example is the description of a ‘gentleman beggar’ in front of their apartment. In her own words-
“I pause on the threshold next to a man who is always there, just outside our bungalow gates. I have sometimes walked home in the early morning after a night out, just as he is setting up his little corner of the world. He doesn’t look up as I pass. I have grown fond of the balding spot at the top of his head. That’s all I ever see of his face, for he is always bent over his notebook: writing. What does he scribble day and night? Can one person carry around so much in his head?
He has curly hair worn in a halo as if to contain the flow of letters, like Lord Shiva trying to contain the restless holy Ganges River in his matted locks. As always he is wearing faded jeans, a grey shirt tucked in, and a tie loosely knotted around his neck. He also wears leather loafers, which have seen better days.”
The thrill of the story started griping us from the second chapter itself, when attempt on her life was made. Was it merely a man trying to molest her? Was it an accident? Or was it a part of bigger conspiracy? That attempt on her, in a moving local train caused something to her-so unnatural for a human being that nobody imagined could ever happen. But it did happen. What is that? That’s for sure the turning point of the story, a teenager transforming into a …………?
From here on the sheer speed of the story line will amaze you, for sure. That ‘something’ that occurred inside her, instigate her to do the craziest of things, a certain rush of adrenal excites her to flow like a river in the face of fear. When you’ll read the train, you’ll feel just like watching a 3D movie, trains whistling past you and you’re standing on the narrow track between the tracks or you’re jumping from the pylon to the Arabian Sea-everything comes so alive. The ‘little miss braver heart’ got prepared go to any length to save her friend Pankkaj. But why somebody is targeting him-is he the real target or someone is using him as a bait for Ruby? And what about the mysterious text massaging, that she receives now and then in her mobile set or from the set of any related one? Who makes these messages from an unknown number? She is in a world surrounded by persons, all in a mask-can be either her friend or foe! In the course of events, our heroine meets Vikram –saving her life and from the anti terrorist squad.
What, when, why-all sorts of questions are for asking. The Mumbai city itself has a terror threat looming large –and she had been sewn with an invisible thread with the fate of the city she feels ‘uncomfortable’ with- a city which she feels is ‘ruthless’. Intentionally or unintentionally, Ruby comes closer to Vikram. In spite of being indifferent to him, she develops some special feelings to him!
Enters Dr. Braganza in the story –the mastermind behind all the terror attacks and behind the attacks on Ruby. In author’s own words –‘She is not slim, not large. Just curvaceous in that typical homely- yet-sexy, housewifely way. Lustrous dark coconut-oil nourished hair falls past her shoulders framing a classic oval-shaped face, supporting full-fleshed bright-red tinted lips, a slightly hooded nose, and eyes from which coal-dark pupils sparkle back The woman’s eyebrows are ruthlessly perfect arches, each kissing the long temple-shaped red-coloured pottu that spurts up in the centre with an almost pornographic perfection.’
But why such a ‘nice’ lady is after Ruby? Why is she trying to turn Mumbai into derbies- terror attack everywhere right from Bandra railway station to Hyatt to Mumbai Taj? What is her real intention? What is her real identity? Ruby discovers the horrible truth and lot more about her. The complex character of Dr. Braganza is really difficult to pen down, but the author accomplished this job with complete ease. At every page, this character reveals some wonder-a psychologically hard to fathom ‘egomaniac’ character.
Ruby found herself trapped in a world with occult Power, magic, violence, revenge, blind faith…….
Had Ruby been able to overcome her evil intention? Or she succumbs to the ‘mysterious’ lady?
Just read the book and discover how a thriller can thrill you. There is one statutory warning though-if you let the story unfinished the suspense may simply kill you.
There is every element in the story to be turned into a fine movie. If it ultimately happens, we’re sure it’ll, then we’ll be able to see ‘angry young lady’ first time in Bollywood( sorry shahensha! Your ‘angry young man’ throne may be in danger!)
Waiting eagerly for Laxmi’s sequel of Ruby Iyer to appear.
Out of 5, I’ll give the story-
Storyline-5 of 5
Narration-4.5 of 5
Plot idea-5 of 5
Review courtesy-Tourz de Codex: The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer