Have you ever asked your mother, what she wanted to be in her life? What were her dreams and aspirations, that were killed slowly and silently by the never ending compromises. Do ask, you will feel surprised, elated and sad, all at once. There comes a moment in your life, a chance to rewrite your story the way you have always wanted to. That chance never comes on its own, you have to fight against all the odds, like a warrior, like a Virago, to fetch it with all your might. Virago by Ritiqa Pachuri, is the story of every woman, who is ready to fight the odds and chase her dreams like a warrior.
About the author
Ritiqa Pachauri is an English teacher who loves telling stories to children. Virago is her second novel after The Affair. She lives in Jaipur with her family.
This book is of interest for
- Fiction lovers
- Anybody looking for a light read
Premise of the book
Virago by Ritiqa Pachauri, is the story of Radhika Mishra, a 30 year old, successful and well settled Chartered Accountant from Jaipur. She is married to Krishnav Sharma, a successful businessman, and is a mother to an amazingly intelligent son, Shriyansh. In short, she has everything in the world that one can ask for, yet her heart is not at ease. There is something pinching her from time to time.
” ‘It will come to me.’ She said to herself.”
But, what was it? An unfulfilled wish? A long left desire? A dream?
She is trying to figure it out or may be she already had. Meanwhile, her marriage is falling apart. Everytime they try to talk, but things are out of hand now.
Krishnav is the only son of Kailash and Anjali Sharma. Because of which, even at the age of thirty-one, he behaves like a child and is extremely pampered by his mother. This fact irritates Radhika, who is a simple woman and has devoted her entire life to her family. Even after being successful, she effortlessly juggles her personal and professional life. But, now something is really bothering her. When she tried talking to Krishnav, his immature behaviour and unsupportive attitude didn’t help her.
Radhika finally comes to a realization, by seeing things in a bigger frame.
Her heart aches for more. It longs for a different life, she wants to dance and act. The only thing that makes her feel alive and defines her- is to be an actor. And now her desire to become one is unflinching. The very thought of performing on a stage, gives her adrenaline rush- a feeling she missed in her mundane office work. A sense of satisfaction. She finally decides to reveal this to her family members and take quick action. It is not surprising, to know that her family members take her dream as a joke. They tell her to think over her decision and not to act impulsively.
Furious and irritated by their attitude she tries to talk to her own parents, Rajendra and Indra Mishra. Her father is a retired bank manager from PNB. He is like a best friend to Radhika, who doesn’t think a bit, before talking to him. She is like an open book in front of him, and having a supportive parents has always helped Radhika. After a bit hesistation, they are able to understand the problems and frustration, Radhika has been through. For Rajendra Mishra, the happiness of his daughter matters the most in this world. While, Radhika’s mother Indra, being a strong lady, has always uplifted her.
“‘It feels good, but I’m scared as well.’ Radhika confessed.
‘Being scared is good. It means you are about to do something really brave.’ Indra assured her.”
Radhika starts researching and finally applies for an acting course at Lady Shri Hans college in New Delhi. She decides to leave Shriyansh at her parents for the time being, till she gets settled in her new life, that awaits her. She is hoping for things to fall into place, after taking this huge step.
When somebody, takes a bold decision, by taking a road less travelled, many questions are being raised against him/her. Radhika is well aware of this. A storm of emotions- guilt, fear, insecurity and longing for her son engulfs her, but she controls her emotions. She decides to be more focused and determined, than she ever was. In college she meets different kind of people, mostly younger than her. But she breaks the age bar, by performing well in her college assignments. She gives all her energy and time in improving day-by-day.
In college she befriends, Kanika, a recent graduate from Miranda House and Vikram, an attractive guy, who is interested in Radhika. Being married for so many years, she never got appreciated for her looks and work by her husband. And now the unwanted attention she was getting from Vikram was making her sad as well as happy. She knows that they have no future together, but its that moment in her life when she just wants to live in the present.
Through an advertisement, she gets to know about a commercial acting centre, Shine Bright, that offers professional training. The head of Shine Bright, Sanjeev Bhatia, guides her through the course. In four months, she appears for a play conducted by Shine Bright. Her hard work and passion, is finally noticed by the Chief Guest of the play, a famous director, Mr. Vivek Khanna. He invites her to come to Mumbai and give a screen test for his upcoming movie. Finally all her efforts and hard work, started to show positive results. Now a bigger step awaited her, a bolder step towards achieving her dreams.
She bids goodbye to her friends, Kanika and Vikram and leaves from Mumbai. She works harder and lands up in a movie role. She befriends Rahul Kapoor, an actor who is also gay. Her career is well settled, she calls her son and parents to live with her in Mumbai. She is relieved and positive now, but its not for long. Because of intimate scene in a movie with Rahul, she ends up in a new controversy. This gives perfect opportunity to Krishnav, to file for divorce and bash her in public. Krishnav has no interest in Radhika or in his son. He has become bankrupt and an alcoholic. His situation, makes it easy for Radhika to win the custody of her son, with the help of her lawyer friend Hima.
Even after winning the case, the embarrassment she has faced in front of everyone, leaves an indelible mark on her mind. These moments make her weak, but its her choice to fight like a Virago and face the obstacles in her life like a strong woman.
Virago was a short and quick read. I would categorize it under no-brainer reads. Even though the plot looks loosely built and unrealistic sometimes, there is still something that will make you stick to the book till the end. It will give a positive and empowering feeling to every woman, who will read it. The message Ritiqa Panchauri, tries to give through this novel, is inspirational, no doubt. And at the end, it’s the lessons we imbibe from everything that matters. This is also justified by the quote mentioned at the end of the book:
“Feminism isn’t about making women stronger. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.”
– G. D. Anderson
Disclaimer: I received this review copy from Bookoholics. This doesn’t affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.