A richly atmospheric, deeply claustrophobic story with a stunning denouement, of two women confronting the everyday realities of their city and country, So All is Peace by Vandana Singhal provides an unflinching insight into love, lust, fear, grief, and the decisions we make, through a cast of sharply drawn characters brought together by an unspoken wrong.
Here are some powerful but heartbreaking lines that stayed with us long after we had turned the last page:
‘…it made me have an epiphany that that is how my life was going to be; its beauty forever marred by ache, its moments of ecstasy shadowed by agony. I was wrong of course. My moments of happiness reached a point and snapped off. Just like that. Never presaged and never returned.’
‘That’s Tanya. She was always beautiful, always a better person, always by my side to make me stronger… But when I begin speaking again, the words stumble and lose direction and fall out as droplets of water. Ok. Perhaps I am not ready to speak yet. In time, but not quite just yet. Or perhaps never.’
‘All I feel is pain. Unmitigated, unending pain. Like a loud horrible keeeeeeeee of a faulty microphone inside my head. And cold. I am always so cold that I seem to be discovering new parts of my body that are developing little icicles inside them.’
‘His restlessness despite his otherwise structured life as a successful award-winning journalist probably comes from the complete lack of emotional support that he received from his parents throughout his life and although it feels a little juvenile and unfair as a thirty-seven year old man to still attribute his lack of emotional depth to his parents, what is undeniable is that they could be from another planet for how much he understood them or how much they have ever understood him.’
‘It is difficult to feel unique when there is another person who looks exactly like you, mirroring your every expression, replicating your every action, even if the replicator is as good looking as Layla often is.’
‘The spaces for women have been systematically, methodically truncated. Not by any dictate. That would be too obvious…No, there no boards saying ‘Women not Allowed’. But open a map of Delhi and there they are. The many, many places where no woman can go and the many, many more places where no woman can go after sundown. A temporal and areal-shrinking of their boundaries.’
Full of memorable characters and poignant scenes So All is Peace is a crucial commentary on the emotional realities and heartbreaks faced by women in today’s cities.