Language: English
Format: Paperback
Pages: 292
Price: INR 199
Namita Devidayal’s second book after her debut novel ‘The Music Room‘ has been on my To Read list for a long time so when I finally got my hands on it, I was quite quote disappointed by the outcome. It appears as if Devidayal hurries to introduce every character just so that she had something to publish. There’s Mummyji, the matriarch, controlling everything and everyone until she falls prey to the failings of old age and her four oddball offspring Rajan Papa the Spineless one, Sunny the Spiteful one, Suman The Insatiable and Saroj, the Simpleton along with their estranged husbands, hysterical wives and disenchanted kids. It revolves around the last few days of Mummyji with lots of flashbacks, many unnecessary. Even with so many characters gracing all 292 pages of it, Aftertaste leaves one with a lingering sense of disillusionment that greatly lacks a sense of depth in its entirety. There are abrupt appearances (as well as abrupt disappearances) by insignificant characters such as Rahul, Rajan Papa’s teenage son, who fights out an entire battle with his sexuality in some remarkably inexplicable and randomly placed 6-7 paragraphs in addition to Suman’s daughter’s Smriti’s bold yet irrelevant point making in one bit ending with her storming out of the house, never to be seen again throughout the book. Based in a Mumbai of the 70s with their booming mithai (confectionery) business BIMZ , it illustrates the daily manipulation by the members of the household and people around them. It is a mechanical story of the Todarmal family, Marwari by their roots and geographically from Punjab by choice, depicting the trader community aptly but increasingly like a daytime soap to be enjoyed by housewives between aloo paranthas and making the beds.

Be wary of Aftertaste as the entire book feels like an afterthought of Devidayal’s and if you think there are only bits and pieces that will be like this, don’t say you weren’t warned. Therefore, if one is still adamant on reading this prepare yourself for some really drab prose, uninteresting characters, terrifically lackluster settings and lots of time wasted. But of course, if one wants a light read for their lunch break this is one novel you should consider buying.

Overall Rating: 2/10

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