This novel introduces us to Abdulla, a man who is still recovering from the untimely death of his former wife and unborn child, as a second marriage is arranged between him and his cousin Hind. Hind is a thoroughly modern girl who does not appreciate the prospect of being anyone’s second option. So the wedding is delayed as Hind travels to the UK for study. There she meets the boisterous Sangita from India and eventually her oddly alluring brother, Ravi. The story explores not just arranged versus spontaneous love but also the love we feel for family (whether we want to or not), friends, and those we’ve lost. Transporting the reader to both Qatar and London and delving deep into Qatari culture, Love Comes Later is an excellent selection for book clubs and those with the travel bug.
ReviewThe title reminded me somehow about the famous song "Love will keep us alive" by Eagles...I can go on and on and on about it....Okay now about this book, I fell in love with it by page one, though my after thoughts as I went on have been mixed..Most often the initial kick or the feel always stays with me...
At first I imagined it to be of Abdullah's struggle to keep up with his lost love but hey then came in Hind showcasing a woman trying to uphold an independent Qatari lady's life with all its restrictions..At this point I liked it even more ..To complete the circle comes Sangita..The vivacious full spirited Sangita is the complete opposite of Hind..They meet in their class and from then on their rapport makes them room mates...Sangita American with her Indian lineage has many things common to Hind..Both parents wish to settle their respective daughters by getting them married.. Their education and other things take back seat for them..Yet these girls somehow manage to keep all this aside travel to England for education..Hind escapes her home (middle east) away from the life of scarfs and refrain...While Sangita from her mother's groom hunt...Hind's sudden disappearance to India to explore her horizon followed by unexpected entry of Abdullah at Hind's residence creates a full swing of drama entwined with anticipation..Sangita and Adullah's sudden flame was a bit unfathomable.. But like they say Love has unusual circumstances and situations to lighten up..That being said what I loved later is the stand taken by Abdullah to stand by his word and feelings with full honesty in spite of the odds presenting his love in front of his family...
Love can transform people and attitude which is wonderfully portrayed by the three main characters of the novel... Abdullah's three years mourning for his lost love Fatima and his reluctant step towards his second marriage for the sake of his family is all well crafted by Mohanalakshmi... Sangita who had numerous questions about the orthodox life of a Muslim easily slips into it when a whip love caresses her (now that is not a oxymoron)..While Hind desires to fly high beyond her family horizons and ahead of the line drawn by her family....Tale beautifully transcends from Qatar to Britain then back to Qatar with a hitch...
It is not just about love and loss but also about the variant of human emotions that sparkles through each one of us..Friendship, faith, honesty, sibling love all are beautifully done..A special mention about Luluwa who brightens bringing smiles on the readers face...
Mohanalakshmi effortlessly portrays the lives of all the cultures..Lives of the aristocratic middle east family who are wrapped in traditional burk ha above the designer label like Alexander Mcqueen..Brands like Gucci, Mac goes hand in hand with the Hijab, Niqab,Ghutra....
The book is a wonderful read and anyone who wants an touch of these culture would find is amazing...
ExcerptAbdulla’s mind wasn’t on Fatima, or on his uncles or cousins. Not even when he drove through the wrought iron entry gate, oblivious to the sprawl of family cars parked haphazardly in the shared courtyard, did he give them a thought. Despite the holy season, his mind was still hard at work. Mentally, he clicked through a final checklist for tomorrow’s meetings. I can squeeze in a few more hours if Fatima is nauseous and sleeps in tomorrow, he thought, rubbing his chin. Instead of the stubble he had anticipated, his whiskers were turning soft. A trim was yet another thing he didn’t have time for these days, though longer beards were out of fashion according to his younger brother Saad, who had been trying to grow one for years. Beard length. Just another change to keep up with.
Change was all around him, Abdulla thought. The cousins getting older, he himself soon to become a father. Abdulla felt the rise of his country’s profile most immediately in the ballooning volume of requests by foreign governments for new trade agreements. By the day, it seemed, Qatar’s international status was growing, which meant more discussions, more meetings.
He slid the car into a gap in the growing shadow between his father’s and grandfather’s houses. It would have to serve as a parking space. The Range Rover door clicked shut behind him as he walked briskly toward his father’s house, BlackBerry in hand, scrolling through his messages. Only then did the sound of wailing reach him, women in pain or grief, emanating from his Uncle Ahmed’s house across the courtyard. He jerked the hands-free device out of his ear and quickened his pace, jogging not toward the majlis where the rest of the men were gathering, but into the main living area of Uncle Ahmed’s, straight toward those unearthly sounds.
The sight of Aunt Wadha stopped him short. Disheveled, her shayla slipping as she howled, she was smacking herself on the forehead. Then came his mother, reaching her arms out to him with a tender, pitying look he hadn’t seen since his pet rabbits from the souq died. But it was Hessa, his other aunt – Fatima’s mother, his own mother-in-law – who sent him into a panic. Ashen-faced, her lips bleeding, she was clutching the evil eye necklace he had bought Fatima on their honeymoon. At the sight of it, the delicate gold cord in Hessa’s hands and not around his wife’s neck, Abdulla felt his knees buckle and the BlackBerry slip from his hand.
“What has happened?” he said. He looked from one stricken face to another.
Numbly, he saw his female cousins were there. At the sight of him the older ones, glamorous Noor and bookish Hind, both women in their own right whom he hadn’t seen in years, jerked their shaylas from their shoulders to cover their hair and went into the adjoining room. In his haste, he hadn’t said “Darb!” to let them know he was entering the room.
“Abdulla, Abdulla…” his mother began, but was thrust aside by Aunt Hessa.
“Fatima,” Hessa screamed, staring wildly at him. “Fatima!”
Rather than fall onto the floor in front of the women, Abdulla slumped heavily into the nearest overstuffed armchair. Fatima…
They left behind gangly nine-year-old Luluwa, Fatima’s sister, who resisted when they tried to take her with them. His father, gray-faced and tired, entered. Abdulla slouched and waited, the growing dread like something chewing at his insides. His father began to talk, but on hearing “accident” and “the intersection at Al Waab” he remembered the Hukoomi traffic service SMS. Then he heard “Ahmed”, and a shiver of horror ran up his back. The driver had been Ahmed, his uncle, the father of his wife.
The morgue was antiseptic, mercilessly public. The police advised against seeing her, insisting that he wouldn’t be able to erase the memory of a face marked with innumerable shards of glass.
Surrounded by family and hospital staff, he couldn’t hold her, talk to her, stroke her slightly rounding stomach, the burial site of their unborn child. Any goodbyes he had hoped to say were suppressed.
He would mourn the baby in secret. He hadn’t wanted to tell relatives about the pregnancy too soon in case of a miscarriage. Now it could never happen: the need to visibly accept God’s will in front of them would prevent him from crying it out, this woe upon woe that was almost too much to bear.
Fatima’s body was washed and wrapped, the prayers said before burial. His little wife, the round face, the knowing eyes he’d grown up next to in the family compound, and the baby he would never see crawl, sleep, or walk were hidden to him now for all eternity. The secret she was carrying was wrapped in a gauzy white kaffan, her grave cloth, when he was finally allowed to see them. The child who would have been named after Abdulla’s grandfather if a boy, his grandmother if a girl, whose gender would now remain a mystery.
At the burial site, as was customary, he fell in line behind his father and uncles. Ahmed, the father, carried his daughter’s slight form.
They placed her on her right side.
Men came to lay the concrete slabs that sealed the grave, so her frame would not rise up as it decomposed in the earth. Abdulla regretted not stroking the softness of her chin or the imperceptibly rounding curve of her belly. I am burying my wife and our unborn child, he thought, the taste of blood filling his mouth from the force with which he bit his cheek to stem the tears. Their secret would be lost within her lifeless womb. News of a double tragedy would spread with the sand under doors and into the ears of their larger circle of acquaintances. Someone would call someone to read the Qur‘an over him. Someone would search out someone else for a bottle of Zamzam water from Mecca.
None of it would stop the acid from chewing through his heart...
Book 24 for SAC
I received a review copy from novel publicity tours..