Book Review: ‘When Jaya Met Jaggu’ by Annapurna Sharma

An elegant collection of love stories!

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Book Title: When Jaya Met Jaggu
Author: Annapurna Sharma
Publisher: Hawakal Publishers
Number of Pages: 188
ISBN: 978-9391431358
Date Published: Apr. 11. 2022
Price: INR 326

When Jaya Met Jaggu by Annapurna Sharma Book Cover

Book Review

“Love necessitates sacrifice, compelling individuals to relinquish something precious to attain its complete experience. Yet, in return, love can saturate our hearts with joy and fulfillment.”

Author Annapurna Sharma beautifully explains the complexities of love and how it embraces numerous feelings and experiences in her novel “When Jaya Met Jaggu.” She also emphasizes how difficult it is to put love into words. It may be inarticulate, which means it may be difficult to define or explain properly. Nonetheless, love can liberate us and make us feel free and alive. It may also be painful and therapeutic since it can provide pain and comfort in various conditions.

The book is a compilation of nine short tales about how people express “love” in diverse ways. A short story, in general, is a compact piece of fiction centered on a small cast of people. Despite its briefness, it captures a distinct moment and leaves a lasting impact. Skilled authors may use characters, ideas, and storylines to capture fleeting moments, elicit emotions, and deliver societal criticism. Similarly, this book’s stories demonstrate similar genre qualities.

“Jasmine Maid,” the collection’s opening tale, delves into the complexity of class and privilege through the heroine Malli’s experiences as a maid, where chocolates she had cherished as a child become a remuneration for sexual favors. The novel deftly navigates harsh territory while providing moments of respite, focusing attention on the difficult lives of domestic servants. The collection comprises a variety of stories that expertly intertwine topics and elicit emotions, portraying the ups and downs of life. Sharma’s writing style is beautiful, eliciting thought and consideration. Metaphors and local languages are used in the stories to create a vivid and well-crafted environment. The introduction of Lord Shri Krishna and his love in the name of Malli’s and Madam’s devotion aids in taming the fury that readers feel and exercise. Two statements stand as highlights to me on a personal level –

Her father demanded good food. By good, he meant meat – an animal wanting to eat another, and Promises were larger than destinies. They were meant to be kept, not broken. There was certain positivity around them.

“Coffee Pleasure,” the second story, is lovely and empathic. Many of the things talked about in the story struck a chord with me as I read it. Coming from the coastal region of Andhra Pradesh and the city of destiny, Vishakapatnam, the mention of ‘sand at R.K. Beach’ and ‘Kalabharati Venue’ evokes countless memories. Also, phrases like ‘Avakaai, Kunkudukai, ammamma, pinni’ made me feel at home! But the most appealing aspect of the narrative is that it is all about coffee! And being an ardent addictive coffee lover enjoyed reading the story. Aside from that, Revathi’s letters about her affection for Harry and her mother’s acceptance of their same-gender relationship are heartwarming and sensitively written.

The title story, “When Jaya Met Jaggu,” is the best in the book for its storytelling, emotional intensity, and deeper understanding of the power of unconditional love. I will stop talking about the tale to avoid spoilers in the review.

Every story in the book, including “Pariah in my Backyard,” “Lunchtime,” “The Lame Mango,” “Gods Without Inquest,” “Temple under the Tamarind Tree,” and “Lone Jungle-Crow,” introduces a wide range of themes and situations found in everyday life. Rather than cramming themes or issues, these stories expertly intertwine them, forming a pattern that demands to be unraveled. Even when the protagonists look serene and struggle to cling on, some stories have an undercurrent of rage.

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Annapurna Sharma’s writing style is basic yet elegant, allowing for straightforward language that conveys the complete range of human experiences. It may sometimes be alarming, stimulating thought and a grin in others. Sharma has a gift for revealing life’s twists and turns in ways that pique the reader’s interest and provoke introspection. Some stories inspire feelings of isolation and loss, like in “Lunchtime,” where food is a crucial metaphor, with its scent and flavor playing an important role in the story. Many stories include Telugu and Hindi language in the conversation, creating a colorful universe filled with Sharma’s well-crafted characters.

As a result, the author’s objective with this work was to explore the numerous perspectives and aspects of love. Love does not necessarily have to be palpable or easily understood. It’s comparable to a need – a driving force for survival, self-expression, connectedness, or divergence. Love becomes necessary for survival in a world full of oddities and exaggerations.

A recommended read!