My introduction to Smitha’s writings was when I read ‘Roads – A Journey with Verses’ which she had co-authored. A book of poems that I had also reviewed and posted on my blog. I found her mellow and inclusive in expressing her feelings. She understands that change is the only constant in life. With a ‘never say die’ attitude, her writing is one of hope and courage. I have been an avid reader of her blog and poems.
In one of her poems ‘Hesitate and Seal Your Fate’ she writes-
Break the chains that hold you back, Shatter the walls that make you slack, Drop the baggage from your cart, It’s never too late to start.
This positive streak is reflected in all her writings and one finds ample instances throughout her first novel. In a preface to one of her poems ‘Hush Daddy! Don’t Fear’ she writes ‘Taking care of a parent isn’t always easy. It’s a vicious cycle of guilt, duty, love, and responsibility. As for the parent, there’s no refuting that aging is an extremely difficult phase of life and a lonely journey.’ It was necessary for me to reproduce the above so that the reader has an insight into the author’s emotional nature, her sensitivity to the situations she finds herself in, and in the ultimate analysis that’s what ‘Coming Home’ is about. This is amply evident from the responses of the protagonist Shanaya: the way she handles the trauma of her mother’s death and the resultant loneliness which envelops her father.
I have always felt that the first novel of an author is to a large extent autobiographical. The need to understand one’s own life and pour out the innermost feelings which we have allowed to lie dormant within us, to hold a mirror in front of us to see our perfections and imperfections and in the end feel fulfilled. Whether it is through fiction or through a straightforward autobiography. That’s what Smitha has done, woven, a fictional story (that I feel) around her own experiences in life into a sensitive story covering all facets of human emotions. Call it a love story, or a journey back to her roots ending in self-discovery, there’s no denying the fact that the reader will find the book absorbing and remind them of some of the classics they have read before. While the book has romance for the romantic, for the discerning banker her background as a banker is amply demonstrated in her descriptions of Shanaya’s work at the bank and the various situations she handles with aplomb. These are detailed and in no sense out of context and in a way will be of interest to the banker reader like me.
The depth of Smitha’s writing lies in her ability to delve deep into the characters she creates, the sensitiveness with which she handles them and brings them alive, so much so that the readers find themselves woven into the fabric of the book and an active observer of the events. In fact, I found myself interacting with the characters while reading the book. Apart from the characterizations, Smitha has recreated the places and situations brilliantly with her eye for detail and the felicity with which she handles her words.
A combination of a banker, poet, artist, and now an author, is a rarity – one mundane and the other in the realms of creative excellence. Smitha is one. She is a prolific blogger. I have been an avid reader of her blog posts and an admirer of her paintings. Her growth as an artist over the last three years has been phenomenal as is evident from her various posts on her blog and social media. She has brought a lot of this artistry while writing her first novel. I am sure many more will follow.
To Shanaya the protagonist, Dubai is the place where she grew up, studied, worked, and as such, that was her home till the traumatic event of her mother’s death brings her back. The first chapter gives us an inkling of what coming home is about.
Twenty-six-year-old, Shanaya, finds her idea of home and family ripped apart when she loses her mother. Her effort to drown herself in her job proves to be financially rewarding and her work is recognized by the organization. But, even this is not enough to fill the vacuum in her heart or answer the questions, her mother’s sudden death had given rise to. In her quest for peace and the need to hold her family together, she leaves her job in Dubai and moves to India. The story finds Shanaya journeying across geographical planes and inner landscapes to finally reach ‘home.’ Coming Home is a heartwarming story about self-discovery, relationships, loss, love, destiny, the choices we make, and how these choices eventually lead to what we are destined for.
NOVEMBER 2020 AUTHOR OF THE MONTH at Spillwords.com
I explore through all my books the reality of human existence, whether it is aging and loneliness, infatuation and love, or finding authenticity in one’s life. I am also an active book reviewer. An Engineer from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India, by qualification and a Banker by profession, I retired from the State Bank of India in the year 2010 and settled down in Chennai, India. After retirement, I have been devoting my time to writing. I also write regularly on my blog ‘Sublimation’ covering various topics ranging from art, philosophy, and culling out slices of life from my various encounters which have found their way into my books more specifically ‘Darkness and Beyond’. My published books include: I am just An Ordinary Man, Darkness and Beyond – A Medley of Many Lives, Autumn Leaves – Seasons of Life, Secrets of the Soul – A Journey in Verse.