Arranged marriage is still very prevalent in India. Every woman who goes into an arranged marriage, does so with a lot of expectations. The courtship period can at times be misleading to what life after marriage is really like. Sometimes the marriage turns out to be nothing like that you expect it to be. Beyond the Veil by Siddhi Palande deals with all of this- arranged marriage, the mindset of a girl who has just gotten married, how she deals with all the challenges thrown at her, and how things change in the end.
Janhvi Desai, is your quintessential Indian woman, well educated, good looking, in a well paying job, and getting married to a guy found by her parents, matched by horoscopes. The guy she is marrying is every parents dream son-in-law, an engineer settled in Mumbai and earning well to keep his wife happy. Like any girl getting into an arrange marriage, Jahnvi has built castles in the air about the sort of relationship that her husband and her will have post wedding. Their courtship, though brief, is filled with fun conversations and Jahnvi looks forward to getting married.
Before she can blink the wedding date has come and as it closer to the date of the wedding, Ram seems to be drifting away from her. Jahnvi writes it off as pre wedding jitters and goes about her wedding preparations. Once the wedding is done, things take a turn for the worse. Ram refuses to even share a bed with her and her mother-in-law if anything makes it worse. The only positive aspect in Jahnvi’s life is her new job and her steady growth in the company.
The couple continues to be estranged, until Ram’s sister and family get caught in a case that only Jahnvi was able to help them out of. After that incident, Ram and Jahnvi start to live as friends.
Why was Ram aloof? What made Ram change is mind? What happens to them is the rest of the story and I don’t want to put up any spoilers. The only thing that I can say is that the twist in the tale is one that you will not see coming.
I loved how Siddhi has captured the essence of what runs through a girl’s head before marriage and also after marriage when her husband refuses to be intimate with her. Jahnvi is a very strong character from the start of the story and if anything her strength only builds as the story goes along. The mother in law character sounds like any typical serial mother in law, but it is possible that there are really women like that in the world. Ram comes off as a flimsy character initially, until you find out the reason for his behaviour. There is a lot said without actually being said and that is one reason why I really loved this book.
Now we also managed to do a small interview with Siddhi. Here is what she has to say.