Books

‘Strictly At Work’ by Sudha Nair looks at what is left unsaid

Almost everyone has been privy to an office romance — either as the facilitating best friend, disapproving colleague or object of affection/attention. In Strictly At Work, (Penguin, ₹ 299) author Sudha Nair goes beyond what onlookers may see on a daily basis and delves into the tumultuous emotions that linger just under the surface.

‘Strictly At Work’ by Sudha Nair looks at what is left unsaid

“I wanted to make it more than just an office romance where you only meet people from your own office. In a co-working space you get to interact with a whole lot of new people from a different line of work,” says Sudha Nair.

Though set in a co-working space in Bengaluru, anyone employed in a corporate setup will relate to Strictly At Work.

“These are two people who are not looking for romance as they are in other relationships. But sometimes you meet the right person at the wrong time,” says Sudha, talking about the protagonists in Strictly...

And while the novel can be consigned to the fairy-tale-for-adults category, Sudha effectively captures scenarios that play out in millions of middle-class homes in India. Abusive relationships, the arm-twisting tactics of an arranged marriage alliance, an ageing parent’s concern to see their child settled, the pressure women put on themselves to conform to societal norms — Sudha addresses all these and more in the book.

“Many women are coerced or emotionally blackmailed into an alliance because they do not want to disappoint their parents; unfortunately, a lot of men also go along with an arranged marriage even if they are not interested, just to get their parents off their backs.”

“We see a lot of these people in society, yet ultimately the choice is ours — whether we want to be like them or stand up for ourselves.”

‘Strictly At Work’ by Sudha Nair looks at what is left unsaid

“In the book, I have tried to portray both traditional and modern values and the choice of breaking out of the mould that we tend to be pigeon-holed in by society and our families. There is a generational divide and while parents have a lot of say in what their children must do, after a while they should just let a child take their own decisions. While they could be disappointed, they should understand each one lives their own life and is responsible for their own happiness.”

Strictly... also has a sub-plot on how homosexuals are viewed in their homes and in society. “We all need to be aware that someone in the family or a close friend could be struggling to break their news to loved ones and if they are not given the space or support they need, things could take a tragic turn.”

The author admits she is still learning about the varied nuances of the gay pride rainbow. “I really feel for them — they have to take on quite a lot. Thankfully, today’s generation is having more open conversations about sex and sexuality.”

“I am not an activist, but my books are my way of expressing myself on different topics and issues,” says the author of 11 novels.


Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Oct 27, 2021 4:05:38 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/books/strictly-at-work-by-sudha-nair-looks-at-what-is-left-unsaid/article36010956.ece

Next Story