Rajkumari Sharma Tankha
Conventionally, a sequel does not always gets its creator the accolades or recognition he or she would have achieved for the former one. But, exceptions are always there. Manoj V Jain’s fourth novel, a sequel to his third creation, Balraj is such an exception. Jain in author’s note mentions a number of messages being sent to him to know what happened to Ramona after Balraj left her in the third novel. “While most enjoyed Inder’s metamorphosis into Balraj and his subsequent journey, they felt that Ramona had been given some kind of raw deal so her story too should be told,” he writes.
And this resulted in Ramona taking shape in the form of Jain’s next novel though it was not supposed to be a full length book in the first place. Though ideally, it would be better if one reads through Balraj before getting onto Ramona as the author recommends, “if you wish to or cannot, it does not matter as Ramona the book (and eventually the character) can stand up independently.”
The mysterious disappearance of Ramona’s husband, Inder, kick-starts the novel which she comes to know through the letter he leaves for her. A shocked Ramona tries to comes to terms with this not-so-easy-to-face situation even as she faces a thousand questions from all around including family and friends.
Jain has divided the novel in two parts: Three Journeys and Becoming Ramona which are further sub-divided in six chapters, each dealing with different phases of the lead character’s life where she tries to discover herself through varied feelings of anger, confusion, resentment, pain, disgust, turmoil, depression and much more…
The novel has a happy ending when Ramona and her family accidentally meet Inder on the boat as they are out to immerse the ashes of her father-in-law in Varanasi. A poignant tale of a woman who tries to fit in various roles, sometimes successfully and sometimes, as she thinks, unsuccessfully. Little wonder that the author dedicates the novel “To all the women, who have been mothers, daughters, wives and girlfriends… who have felt guilty for not living up to the expectations set for their role.”