Prisons of Our Minds

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5.00 · 1 ratings · Published: Nov 7th, 2015 {{ book.ratingTitle }}
The story opens with the female protagonist, Anu, unconscious in a decrepit government hospital in an obscure village. She has the same injuries and is rumoured to have exhibited the same lunatic behaviour as the famous cursed women of the family that she has married into. Between 1962 and 1977, these three women from the two preceding generations had jumped to their deaths after losing their sanity and inflicting horrific injuries on themselves.
The book then travels through Anu’s life from the beginning, to witness the experiences and nurturing that made her the person who was able to defeat the invincible curse. It also follows the lives of her twin, Mannu and of her friends’, Vedika and Amol, as they deal with abuse, mental illness, heartbreak and the consequences of rebelling against the conservative small town of the eighties and nineties.
Growing up, Anu is witty, wild and a tomboy. Her father raises her to be unapologetically brave and encourages her to speak her mind in a society that takes her independence as a slight to their collective ego. Her mother gives her conflicting messages by asking her to be mindful of social decorum while breaking it herself. These confusing parental instructions are made simple and amusing by her maternal aunt, Neerja, who is blind, eccentric and psychic. It is one of her prophesies that turns Anu’s life around.
Mannu, unlike Anu, is very popular. Everyone who knows him loves him their own. They don’t know that he hides a truth that nobody could have imagined.
Vedika is Anu’s best friend and her opposite in almost every way. She is stunningly beautiful, extremely well behaved and unconditionally obedient.
Amol is shy and soft-spoken. His extreme shyness is aggravated by the ridicule about his weight and his depressed, bedridden mother whom he hides like a shameful secret.
Vedika and Amol develop a special bond due to the shared pain of their mother’s mental health issues. The mutual empathy between them leads to a special camaraderie which results in the deepest kind of love when they are older.
Evil visits the girls’ childhood when Vedika’s father remarries and her pervert step uncle enters her life, and Anu’s psychopathic aunt Asha starts visiting. After a serious injury at her hands, her Neerja comforts the fourteen year old Anu by telling her that she is going to meet her soul mate on a train and it would change her life for the better. Anu meets the boy briefly but does not see his face clearly or know his name. A few years later, blinded by desperation, she mistakes a different boy for him, pursues him with madness and gets her heart broken. Meanwhile, even though they love each other, it ends before it starts for Amol and Vedika due to a misunderstanding.
After her breakup Anu is unable to deal with the loss of who she thinks was her soul mate and goes into a severe depression. After several hospitalisations and despite her family’s best efforts, she is on the verge of death till one fateful night when her uncle brings home a startling discovery. It jolts her out of the depressive state, she recovers and moves to Delhi.
Eight years later, she is living with her twin Mannu and his friend, Shamshir. Vedika lives close by stubbornly hanging on to a failed marriage and getting by with ‘not being unhappy’. Amol has also moved to Delhi but keeps to himself.
Anu meets the boy from the train, Bhanu, through Shamshir except that they don’t know that they have met before. Although they are drawn to each other, they have an instant dislike for each other and start as foes. Eventually, they fall in love but Bhanu leaves suddenly, leaving her by herself in Abaadgarh. Soon the curse of the Abaadgarh Badi Haveli begins to awaken, proving to the believers that it has held its potency for almost thirty years.

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