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Seduction by Truth Paperback – 18 Oct 2018
Paperback, 18 Oct 2018
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A story of the interplay of sex, trust and love in a marriage, and what happens when attraction dies and a man stands at the crossroads of dharma and desire.
About the Author
Mukul Kumar is a civil servant of the batch of 1997. An Indian Railway Traffic Service officer, he is currently posted in the Ministry of Railways, New Delhi. A graduate of Kirori Mal College, Mukul has studied Public Administration at the prestigious Indian Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi.
His publications include an anthology of English poems, The Irrepressible Echoes (2012), and his first work of fiction, As Boys Become Men (2016).
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The battle in the mind and heart of a man to make a choice between his conscience and tradition, I found this as the main purpose of the author in choosing to write ‘seduction By Truth’. Marriage, and precisely adultery in marriage, which challenges tradition and is itself a path away from tradition, has been wisely and interestingly chosen as a medium to express this ‘inhibition’ and ‘complexity in the mind’ of a man when he is compelled to choose between the two, and thereby, discover himself in the process. Thus, the author has accomplished a dual purpose here – debate on Conscience vs tradition, and study marriage as a social institution. These are very well described through the silent soliloquies of the protagonist in the novel.
Our religion(s) professes legitimate procreation as one of the basic purpose of marriage. Passion in marriage as a subject is generally ignored and best avoided. Leave aside speaking on it, many fail to realize its importance in a successful marriage. Seduction by Truth argues on both fronts and mainly it is the lack of passion and love in marriage which propels 4 out of the 5 main characters of the novel to seek it outside their marriage- that we call as adultery.
Shiva: a charming and successful corporate man in his early forties, project leader in an MNC.
Akriti: Shiva’s beautiful wife
Sana: Personal Secretary to Shiva, a devout Hindu woman who swears by the Hindu scriptures.
Zeba: A corporate woman, project leader of an MNC. Shiva and Zeba work together in a project. Staunch follower of Islamic traditions.
Mary: A young Christian girl from Florence, Italy, who has chosen chastity over marriage. Her beliefs are rigid, and non-permeable..
Deven: Shiva’s college friend and a confidant.
Shiva and Akriti as a couple: All that a happy marriage and a content family can be thought of , Shiva, Akriti and their loving son Ankur represent so. Yet, the happiness in the marriage goes missing. Incompatibilities in their marriage are as common as any other. But they act prudent when it comes to accepting their lack of passion towards each other after a decade of marital partnership.
Unlike many submissive wives, Akriti chooses to be upfront in asserting that lovemaking between a husband and wife can’t be a forced affair and oversteps the sacramental bond of marriage to fulfil her desires. She has been portrayed as a bold woman with a progressive mind. Yet, her genuine womanly insecurity on her husband turning away from her don’t escape her. She demands due respect from her husband as a wife and mother of their child, and here the author scores high in bringing out the vulnerabilities of a woman and a wife.
Whereas Sana, the first woman Shiva engages with outside his marriage, is characterized as a submissive woman who stays on in an abusive and loveless marriage due to compulsions of the child and society. Hers is an example of male subjugation.
Affairs in office between a boss and PS, or between colleagues is a reality and many of those are extra marital affairs. Sana and Shiva’s is one such, except that Shiva, cunningly and quite smartly frames her into his scheme of turning a married woman adulterous, and Sana falls for her boss’s charming ways. They satiate the needs of passion and companionship which was otherwise missing in their respective marriages, but not without guilt and fear of deviating from tradition. Comes here the battle between conscience and tradition. But passion is blinding...
Zeba is humiliated as her husband brings another wife-polygamy practiced in her religion. She accepts this in the name of tradition. She finds Shiva a sensitive man, and mistakes Shiva’s calculated approach as ‘genuine’ interest in her. A beautiful woman, deserted by the husband, finds the attention of a handsome man soothing her humiliation. She consciously surrenders herself to Shiva, but goes back to her marriage and tradition. Conscience and tradition battle in the mind here too. And both win.
Shiva, whom the author has chosen as the protagonist, makes intriguing journeys through all the 4 women in his life. His character has shades of black and white, sophistry and sensitivity, truthfulness to self and deceitfulness to others. One might appreciate his sensitivity towards his wife in remaining silent on her affair, but trying to view her as a woman first, wife later remains mostly in his thoughts only . The affection for the wife which remains intact even after the many affairs, one might wonder why he never tries to express it which could mend their relationship. He frames women one after the other by playing on their vulnerabilities and embalming their anger towards their husbands and marriage only to meet his ends of passion and a silent revenge on his wife, yet feels a prick in getting intimate with one woman over the other. Human mind is complex. No one is perfect. These aspects are portrayed quite convincingly by the author.
Sana, Zeba and Shiva take silent revenge against their spouses, but Mary is a contrast from all the women characters in the story. She has taken a vow of chastity and considers fulfilment of passion a sin. But then she too is a woman. Proximity to a handsome and an intellectual man, she decides to taste desire once, but her belief on it being sin doesn’t go away. Shiva’s flirtations win him her body, but suffers defeat in not being able to transform her belief.
Sana was an easy win, Zeba, a little difficult, Mary the most.
Deven becomes Shiva’s confidant , a friend one desires for when in trouble. And Shiva’s troubles are many- infidelity of his wife which he can not digest, and his own affair which he justifies in the name of revenge against his wife. Deven brings out the narcissism in Shiva and imparts practical wisdom that extra marital affairs can never be guilt free.
Mary finally experiences birth, the novel ends with it. Mary chooses to give birth to Shiva and her child. Love dissolves sin, and it is the birth of new feelings in Mary and Shiva as well. The persisting black hole in his mind turns radiant. Mary has shown Shiva what love is- the love which Shiva hadn’t received so far from any woman, not even the wife. Anger, deceit, revenge, manipulation, villainy, insecurity, which had become ways of Shiva and had left him unanchored, Mary brings the succour which Shiva was hankering for. This might be a turning point in Shiva’s life, to help bring peace to himself. This in my opinion what the end of the book tries to convey.
All the women characters are shown to overpower their guilt who choose to fulfil their desires outside their marriages. On the other hand, Shiva’s repeated success with the 3 women appears a fantasy. Also, he is portrayed as an ‘all- knowing’ man. The author gets a little too ambitious in sculpting Shiva’s character. Passion rules over conscience , and tradition. No wonder why adultery has become a reality in the society and the faith in the sanctity of marriage is thinning away. Easy and instant gratification is overpowering morality. Now the Supreme Court too dismisses adultery being an offence and lays emphasis on gender equality. This book too focuses on gender equality and therefore gets topical.
Social issues like marital rape, an unspoken reality in many households, has been dealt with subtlety.
The three women from 3 different religions have been chosen with a purpose. Not only it gives the readers a peep into Hinduism, Islam and Christian traditions and how a religion becomes a way of our lives knowingly or involuntarily, author appears to have chosen such characters purposefully- to establish that no single order is perfect to meet the emotional and physical needs of a man- be it monogamy or polygamy. He even debates that no single order i.e neither capitalism nor communism individually can be sufficient to meet the demands of a progressing society.
The plot is riveting, and filled with insightful thoughts which reflects the profundity of the author in understanding human behavior. Surely, he has observed people closely and all stars to the author in this context.
Literary and modern writing, the book caters to both section of readers.
Set in Delhi, Azerbaijan and Italy and deliberating on 3 major religions of the world gives the book a global appeal.
The cover is attractive.
Buy the book for various reasons- story, language, insights into modern marriage, ,mythological tales and philosophy.
‘When truth is one and many and at deviance with each other, one should devise his own truth’- but if all try to devise their own truths, won’t this lead to anarchy in the society?
This is not merely a review of the book, but my attempt to understand the plot, the characters and author’s intent to write on this subject.
This is the story of main protagonist Shiva who is in early forties successful businessman, married with Akriti and son Ankur. But after a certain age, Akriti had lost interest in having sexual pleasure-seeking with him. The lack of desire for sex in Shiva's life makes him questionable on marriage and doubts that his wife is having an affair with another man and realizes that must be the reason for his wife's lack of interest in him. Instead of asking or fighting about his wife affair, he decides to handle the situation in another way by taking a silent revenge to prove the sexual desire to other women. On Shiva's journey to find the reason behind lack of desire in married life. He encounters Sana- the personal secretary who is not happy with her husband, Zeba- who unhappy in her marriage and was mercilessly neglected by her husband a victim of polygamy and the last women Mary- unmarried Italian who doesn't believe in marriage and considers having sex a sin. Shiva with his knowledge about the historical and mythological character was able to convince about adultery. To know more read the book.
The author’s strongest point is a plot with a unique theme. Language is simple crisp and lucid and has the ability to bring live the events narrated in the book. The author’s mastery over the language is evident from the terms he has used and the vivid description of events that unfold in the pages of the book. He has portrayed each and every character with the utmost significance of their own and every one of them has done justice to their respective roles throughout the story. The only character that left me a bit confused was that of Akriti, maybe the author should have added one more chapter with her side of the story. The climax could have been much better with a clear conclusion. The storyline is gripping as well as intriguing and the author has been able to do full justice to it. The pace of the story was steady and smooth. The narration of the events is done brilliantly. The book is free from any grammatical errors and has been perfectly edited.
Looking forward to read more books by the author.