A tangled web

A tangled web

Amisha has found her perfect man and is going to marry him, but feels the need to push the boundaries of their relationship. Akshara is in love with her best friend, but while he will give her benefits, he won’t give her his love.

Ladli has had her heart broken, so she runs away, only to find it waiting for her on the other side. Shayna knows what she wants in a man, but the man she wants is nothing like that. And finally, the girl who wants Shayna, just needs a friend. Cold Feet is the story of the strangely entwined lives of five women who live in Mumbai and deal differently with the same thing — love.

This is how the blurb reads on the new offering by Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan, who is sometimes called ‘India’s answer to Bridget Jones.’

Now, if literature is supposed to mirror the heart of a society, then we can all gauge which way this society is going. Amisha, Akshara, Ladli, Shayna and the fifth voice who speaks all along in the first person, but who we ultimately get to know is Radha — are all young women in their late 20s, who have come to Mumbai to work. But all that they seem to think of and about, at least as Madhavan has us believe, is making out. Yes, that’s it — making out with men, and in one case — Madhavan is careful enough to be politically correct — with a woman.

We can gauge — since the offering is all about love and relationships — that Amisha is the happiest. She has hooked someone (and a firang at that) who cares enough for her to marry her. Akshara, as we already know, is in love with her best friend, but while he is happy to live in together with her and sleep with her everyday and sometimes more than once a day, he is not ready ‘to settle down’ and is happy to date even as Akshara moves in with him.

She has no choice but to walk out, not before giving him a piece of her mind though. She sulks and imagines what it would be like to say, for instance, if one was to have a fetish for old squeaky lifts. Ladli too is in love with a guy who has no time for her, and does not know why he should marry her since she seems happy to marry just about anyone.

Shayna too can be said to be successful. She finds a boyfriend double her age, sugar daddy, who is happy to have her move into his plush home, to cook for her and chaperone her wherever and whenever needed, and to keep her happy in bed. She loves the dual life that she leads. And finally — the girl who wants Shayna — that is whom we find out right at the end, is Radha, also finds herself a girlfriend and so at least for three of the protagonists, the novel ends on a happy note.

There is, however, one redeeming feature — in a country which very recently underwent an agonising soul-search over gender violence and women’s status, all five of Madhavan’s characters are about changing the status-quo. They are small rebels.

Amisha, even while planning the wedding, has a voice telling her that she will not be sleeping with another man again. Akshara is happy to be escorted back home with a man she just meets in a Café and who is forced to consider her fetish for old creaky lifts. Ladli, even as she finds her heart waiting for her ‘on the other side’, makes out with an American in his swimming pool, as his Indian wife is away on a shopping spree. Shayna keeps her sugar daddy in place when she saunters off on her own to meet her old pals, and as for Radha, coming out for a gay is in itself an act of super rebellion in our society.
On a particularly dull rainy day, when there is nothing to do, Cold Feet may beckon one to give it a read.

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