Ever since I started this blog I am consciously reading out of my literary comfort zone by not only trying different genres but some risqué subjects too. Risqué per Indian culture, where sexuality of every kind exists but rarely spoken of and when it is spoken of it is behind closed, safe doors, in hushed tones or as a form of abuse. The primary reason,even today, for that is a human being of a varied (different from man-woman) sexual preference is viewed as a criminal under the Indian legal system. It’s a (bloody) frustrating, tough fight being fought in India even today and has atleast another few couple of decades to show visible mass acceptance. So kudos to the author for writing about it and getting people to talk about it freely atleast on social media.
Title: Love bi the way
Author: Bhaavna Arora
Publisher: Penguin India
Published: September 2016
Format reviewed: Paperback
City(s) based in: Delhi, India
Time period: Contemporary
Professions of main characters: Painter and Business woman.
Author Bhaavna Arora’s third book, “Love Bi The Way” is an unconventional love story based on two women.
Love Bi The Way is a romance comedy that will tickle your bones and at the same time sensitize you to challenges faced by “Love” in the Indian society. It has all its elements in the right proportion to give you a soul-replenishing recipe. Love Bi The Way touches upon the unconventional topic ofbisexuality, a controversial topic that may ruffle the feathers of moral guardians of society. However, book lovers will enjoy the unusual topic it broaches and the keen wordplay.
From the press release: This I mention here because it will give you an idea of the mindset at large in India and other developing countries in Asia regarding Sexuality.
In India, bisexuality is still a taboo and nobody wants to talk about it openly. Bhaavna’s latest book explores the relationship between two female protagonists, Rihana and Zara. Both are financially independent; yet have strikingly different personalities and are battling their own demons. As the two girls travel down the path less trodden, their lives unfurl and take them on several adventures, teaching them a few lessons along the way.
I have read only one other book by Bhaavna which is Mistress of Honour an army background story. It was bold with a theme prevalent as long as humans and pre marital sex has existed. It was a straightforward and crisp account of a young woman having a baby out of marriage and how she stands strong with her head held high.
Love bi the way is the story of Rihanna and Zara, their bold, forbidden as per Indian culture, friendship and love at its centre. I am deliberately saying bold, forbidden because even though metro/bigger cities are a tad bit more tolerant or accepting of the lgbtqa community the rest of India is yet to get there. All is well and accepted behind closed doors but suppressed in open to keep up appearances and maintain status quo. More for the safety and peace of the families and lovers involves in my experience.
Rihanna and Zara are 2 women from a privileged background, their emotional state is as messed up as any other person but their financial and physical stability is well taken care of. This basic fact of privilege makes me think about how the story would take a 360° turn if the women in this story were from a middle or poor background. Most probably then there wouldn’t be a story to write or tell! That said this story is more about Love in my view. Many a times same sex friendships in India are very closely bonded, the girls are closer than sisters at times and same with the guys too. So when 2 women or guys are seen holding hands while walking or guys sitting close on a bike it’s not seen as anything but close friendship.
Love is a fickle emotion and you never know when you fall for the object of your affection. There are all kinds of love, I am not going to discuss or judge that. Love is between the people involved who usually are helpless at the hands of their emotions and feelings. Sometimes that’s a good thing sometimes it hurts likes hell. So in this story when Rihanna and Zara live together and care about each other you won’t even think about it as a sexual relationship. They live in a big city, they are friends, both successful in their chosen careers. What happens between them and how they become lovers is a personal experience. It is not for you, me or anyone else to pass judgement on. Since they are in India, the girls were careful not to flaunt their sexual status in front of the world. To everyone else they are best friends who live together and deeply care for each other. We get to read about how they are with each other, you will not see how the world reacts to their relationship or them being bisexual. The story is about their personal interactions and other co-living, shared experiences. Their personal interactions are handled well and written beautifully, the way Rihanna and Zara conduct themselves towards the end of the book is also very well written.
If you are expecting to read this story just to check out some girl on girl action, you can just keep the book down and walk away. This story is about two people being intimate, compatible and in love with each other. Their relationship has a closeness and compatibility we all wish for in our own lives. It is not everyday you see an Indian story where fun, friendship, intimacy and love between 2 people is handled in a sensitive yet realistic narration.
You should read this story to check out for yourself how same sex relationships are not all about sex. There is much more to it.
Book buy link: Amazon India
About the author:
Bhaavna Arora belongs to a new breed of Indian women writers who write on topics that are very relevant to today’s society, but are often spoken in hushed and whispered tones. Bhaavna calls herself an avid learner, who attributes her learnings to life, and her unique perspective on life is evident in all her books, including her latest release, Love Bi The Way.
Armed with two MBA degrees and a Doctorate from Pittsford University, Bhaavna is a bestseller author. Her previous novels, The Deliberate Sinner and Mistress of Honour topped the bestselling list in India, and also won her accolades from the critics. Prior to becoming a novelist, Bhaavna was an academician, teaching in a leading business school. Her lifelong thirst for knowledge and learning was the reason for this switch. Her unconventional opinions have turned Bhaavna into an interesting writer, who grab the reader’s attention from the first to the last word.
Connect with Bhaavna via Twitter