Black Taj

by Mohini Kent

Read this in about 5 minutes
This author , journalist , film maker and charity worker debuts with Black Taj as a fiction writer.Written by Mohini Kent , an Indian by origin and now based in UK , it is based in India in 1993.This is a love story that goes beyond the boundaries set by religious or social segregation.


Cover


One of the first things that appealed to me about the book was the cover. It shows The Taj , and the much celebrated hypothetical Black Taj as a mirror image , just as they were apparently meant to be. With a sari clad woman sandwiched between the two- the black and white  stenciled graphics create a sense of curiosity in me , just as the title did at first glance. The cover relates to the title of the book and leaves one wondering if both the cover and the title would relate to the story within.

Characters

Twenty-five year old Simi lives in Atmapur , India along with her parents and grandmother. Raised by a Muslim ayah Mariam who’s survived by a young hot headed son-Ahmed. The plot involves an aunt, a cousin and a dear friend Pia.
Dr.Imran Chaudary- a Nawab by inheritance is our hero who lost his legacy to the new rules implemented in independent India. He moves to this town from New York and brings  a childhood friend, Sanjay into the plot. This young politician also plays significant role in the story.Apart from these characters there are the financially backward women that Simi helps and educates , Dons, Politicians etc who contribute to the story.

Content

This beautiful 25 year old is  a smart , independent and is a sensitive girl who is brought up without having  being fed the prejudice of religion , social standing etc.  Set apart by her questioning mind  and an empathetic heart she like any Indian girl is constantly taunted to find a suitable match in her own community , social setting etc.
Young dynamic and fearless Dr.Imran makes home in Simi’s heart right from the word go . Black Taj  is the saga of how young minds try to change the mindset of the community that is deeply engraved with bias based on religion , money , family name etc and who , though are constantly dependent on the underbelly of the City never acknowledge them or support them as they should.
Amidst fierce attempts to protect the rights of the poor , Dr.Imran and Simi are drawn to each other and hence begins their love story set in a time and context when the Country was still healing from an ugly partition . The partition had not just divided the land but also caused a rift among different communities who earlier lived at peace with each other. Black Taj  takes one through a journey of realization , realization of  the need to voice one’s thoughts about the underprivileged and of-course takes one through the journey of finding and holding on to love which makes one’s life more meaningful and valuing  a  relationship where two people love and respect each other for who they are rather than  mere physical attributes.

Language

Written in third perspective – Simple English that is easy to get accustomed to is used . The narration is laced with a little Urdu and Hindi to give it a more Indian touch .Small excerpts of poetry are used in certain places and unpleasantly heavy English slang has been assigned to Simi’s father.

Good Points

The plot has more than one element to it- there is political turmoil , a realistic portrayal of the mindset of the society while the highlight remains the love story. These different ideas are pleasantly woven together leaving no loopholes or scope for fragmentation.
It shows the leading lady-Simi grow from a simple young woman to a fierce  and strong woman who stands up for the rights of others and of-course for her love.  Most of all it shows us how though there might be a large  part of the society  that discriminates  in terms of religion – there are some of us who hold humanity above everything else.

Bad Points

The heavy English slang used by the father can get on to the reader’s nerves and the narration drags in certain places. There is a constant flat-line amidst the many highs that the plot offers.

Overall

A good read, though a little dragged- mostly in parts that show communal eruptions. Conflicts are an essential part of the story in order to bring to fore the communal difference , but I personally did not think that so many of those were essential as the point could have been conveyed in a more crisp manner. Most characters are well chalked out, especially the protagonists take the cake . The plot and the agonies are relatable even at this point of time in India.

Who do I recommend it to ?

It cannot be branded as a romance per se , but is a fine mixture of a lot of other realistic concerns that we face. Hence, this will make a good read for the ones who loath reading pure romances , and also to people who wish to delve deeper into issues of communal and social conflicts.

Quotable Quotes

The pain was excruciating , though not worse than the anguish of being beaten by her son.
Love demands patience but desire will not wait ; What hues will my heart reflect as it bleeds to death ?
Slowly as time passed , she had reached a plateau of love with her husband '; not the heady tumultuous love of passion , but a steady flame that survived the difficulties.
The wise one allows himself to drift like a leaf on the current of life. Anxiety is the mother of all ills.
Ahmed believed he was just as good as anyone rich. It was just that he owned less. Much, much less. But he deserved no less.
Many may have loved you, many still to come , but none as I do in the throb of eternity which is ours.