Books

In search of the elusive happiness

INSPIRED BY LIFE Rupa Bhullar   | Photo Credit: V. Sudershan

Making her writing debut, Rupa Bhullar, the US-based finance professional has come up with a romantic novel “Indigo Sun” (Rupa), which goes beyond the usual boy-meets-girl story. Encompassing the journey of Maya, a successful doctor, based abroad, it follows her discovery of a new meaning of life, meeting her man of dreams and realising her dreams.

Asserting that she didn’t opt for romance deliberately, Rupa says, “I did not have a choice as this story had to be told in this format.” She goes on to add it is not a mushy love story. “It is a old school romance and not the trendy one as it has no Facebook, Twitter, texting, etc. In fact, my mother read the book and exclaimed, Yeh toh hamari time ki story hai,” she quips. “The love between Maya and Veer enable them to grow as individuals, bringing alive all their colours. Their love entails support, encouragement and belief. This is my understanding of love.”

The fleshing of Veer, the male protagonist, is virtually in the image of an ideal man, handsome as a Greek God, rich with a heart of gold. Isn’t that in the realm of the disbelief? “He is my projection of an ideal person. Through him, I wanted to convey that being rich does not mean being bad. For him money is as a means to an end making him grounded and wanting to contribute to the society and help needy. Above all I wanted him to be respectful to women. These are the things I would expect from my son.” Rupa’s other characters who take Maya’s story forward making her learn varied facets of life, are well etched out too. For example, there is a small boy, Ananda, his father who ekes out a honest living working as a doorman, his mother, Leela the mystic among others. “I did meet many people like them, so it is not merely fiction but an extension of reality and there is a lot one can learn from them. So one sees Ananda teach Maya how to enjoy small things of life like going to a fair, eating bread pakora while his mother exhibits large-heartedness despite her poverty.”

Describing Maya’s journey as that of any other women, Rupa explains, “Everyone comes to a point in life when they realise that society has sold them a dummy in the concept that a good career, good family and secure life will definitely make them happy. Because even as they accomplish these goals, happiness still eludes them.” So what is the remedy? “One must introspect and find as to what gives them happiness and do it. Maya does by following her passion for painting.” Does this hold true for men too. “Yes, absolutely.”

Search for happiness forms the essence of the book. “Maya is all about illusion while Ananda the little boy is symbolic of the eternal happiness. Maya, because most of us are caught up in that illusion of life and lead it. Happiness can be different for different people. They may not share it. It is discovering what it means to you. It could something as a simple as having a cup of tea watching the rain while for many it would be a waste of time. It is about things you feel home with, you need to bring in your life to be able to feel fulfilled. I have met many who are not stereotypically and in fact are very different in heart as compared where they ended up.”

Self-discovery

On asking if Maya mirror’s her life, Rupa, says yes. “Many aspects reflect my life and thoughts. I discovered very late, my passion and love for reading, igniting a reflective streak in me. I started sharing my observations on the Facebook making me realise that I love to write, yet all this stayed with me for 10 years when I finally decided to take write this story based on my thoughts and observations.” According to Rupa, the story was always there in her. While the churning was going, the trigger to write happened when she watched Imtiaz Ali’s Tamasha. And that’s why she requested him to release the book. “The plot about the self-discovery of a 9 to 5 person in whom an artist is trapped set me thinking. I looked at my case. Having spent years in becoming a professional, how could I say that I wanted to write a book? So there was a knock from within, that there is a story and it had to come out. It became harder and harder not write.”

Rupa’s visit to the Jodhpur was an additional trigger. “Though on my first visit, I was amazed to see many things which I had conceptualised about the story were there. For example, the opening scene where Maya is sitting under a tree by a poolside is what I experienced in a hotel. The place also gave me plenty of insights, descriptions and localities to incorporate in the story.”

In fact, the title of the book also emerged from the city. “As it is known as the Indigo and the Sun city, when I went there, I got the title. It fits in with Maya’s life as indigo sun is symbolic of something which is your masterpiece which you need to bring about and it may not be rational.She wanted to make a sun but with her imagination she painted in indigo – blue sun.”

So will like Maya, Rupa continue pursuing her dream? “Of course, I have already started working on my second book which is a romantic story based in Kolkata with Partition as the backdrop,” she reveals.

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Printable version | Nov 24, 2020 9:14:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/books/in-search-of-the-elusive-happiness/article22666713.ece

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