31 Miles: Can we ever win against ourselves? by Vinita Bakshi
Published: November 1st 2016 by Rupa Publications India
Read Date: November 27th 2017
Mansa has the perfect family life—a husband, two daughters and a big house. But she feels that something is missing. After shifting to a major city, she decides to take the reins of her life in her own hands, she decides to step out and seek a career.
While enjoying the new-found freedom and confidence, she completely immerses herself in her work and her new life. Till one fateful day when she finds herself embroiled in a passionate affair—with an online lover. And then everything falls apart!
31 Miles is the story of a woman who rediscovers herself after marriage, and works towards self-emancipation. Will she give it all up for the elusive mirage created by the stranger? What turn will her life take next?
31 Miles was third person narrative about life story of Mansa, a happily married woman who actually started living her life in middle age. It was story about a woman coming out of her caring family and housewife life, spreading her wings in the world totally different from her conservative and conventionally moral mind, and about her love with a stranger, living miles away, whom she meets online.
The story was about the transformation of Mansa, finding her true self and identity, being independent, finding a love, experiencing a relationship and going through bundle of emotions- joy, guilt, heartbreak, grief. This character went through all kind of emotional stages at middle age, that normal person experiences in youth. All these made story and her life so damn complex. And then there was also a mystery of Karmic cycle.
Mansa– Main character- she was beautiful, health conscious lady with caring rich husband and two young daughters. She was great housewife and very perfect wife and mother, energetic and always looking for some activity. She was so creative and smart. I admired her for leading a successful Abhimansa enterprise. But she was naïve when it came to her relationship with Rajan, I didn’t like her for putting the things on back seat for him that gave her identity.
Rajan– a stranger Mansa fell in love – He was such an egoistic guy. His way of talking clearly showed his interest in Mansa but the way he was treating her gave a different picture. I never liked him for that and I could see Mansa’s blindness for this guy. I don’t know how she could trust him, I found nothing in him to be trusted. Nothing was likable about him except his poetry.
Abhijit– Mansa’s husband- He was very practical and realistic guy who never believed in love but was so much caring, responsible, and understanding person. I just loved this guy for giving all privacy and freedom to Mansa and never doubting ever so slightly. There were few flaws but definitely lovable person.
Writing was very beautiful and smooth. I loved that author gave thorough information on Mansa’s life. Right from her childhood, family love, school and college life to married life as well as Mansa’s nature, her thoughts on her relationship with Abhijit. Most beautiful of all was, all required explanation behind Mansa’s actions were given- what she wanted in her married life from Abhijit, what it lacked, why she fell in love even though it was not in her nature, why she was naïve or believed what Rajan said. The depth author went in narrating emotional ups and down of Mansa was remarkable. I came to know this character so deeply by the end of the book.
“Sometimes she thought that she had been a good daughter, sister, wife, mother, and daughter-in-law, but where was she in this multiplicity of roles? Had she been fair to herself? When and where did her youth go?”
Middle portion of the book, the time period of Mansa’s relationship with Rajan, more specifically chats, made book little slow and dragging, only thing about that portion that kept me going was pieces of Urdu poetry and my curiosity. I didn’t want to miss anything. It was also important portion of the book as it gave crystal clear picture of Rajan- regarding what he was and what he did, and where this relationship was going. Talking about poetry, it was wow! I liked that author translated all the poetry into English so that anyone can understand the couplets.
“Caught between the morality of marriage and what she believed to be her true love, she was going through personal hell of emotional crises.”
I was thinking why book was titled 31 Miles until Mansa went to Europe trip. After reading that portion it felt so appropriate. It was turning point of the book and from here on everything changed in her life. It was very touching part even though I felt like yelling at her and scold her for not being sensible.
“What use is a life if you had never loved, never had your heart broken, and never felt the pain, never felt alive? You might as well never live!”
I loved the way author connected everything to Karmic cycle. From the climax, book was very interesting with deep thoughts, whole explanation of Karmic cycle and how it related to story of Mansa, Rajan and Abhijt was fascinating. The end was sad and predictable because of the hint given in prologue, but I still hoped for different end. I am so happy that author has given a hint of sequel at the end. I’m so desperate to see what will happen in it.
All characters were realistic and story felt real, could have happened in anyone’s life. I loved this book for giving a new perspective.
I always believed somethings just happens in life beyond anyone’s control, and specifically feeling and even more specifically when that feeling is love. Love is very complex thing and it makes life complicated but no one can ever control or reason with it when it is true, even though third person’s view says it’s not true or however it appearing is wrong. Some love stories become successful, some teach a lesson or act as precursor. There’s no end of true feelings. All in all love knows no boundary or age or ties. It’s a feeling that can be experienced by anyone. There is always a reason you meet someone in life. These thing were nicely said in this book.
As I said I didn’t like that middle portion of the book, chatting and all. It made book little slow plus I never liked Rajan.
Overall book was unique, brilliantly written characters and story with depth of emotion.
Buy Here: Amazon.in / Amazon.com
*** Note: I received copy of this book from the author, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to author. I am glad I got a chance to read this book.***
What do you think about book and review? Have you read this book already? Share you thoughts in the comment-box below.
Happy Reading! 🙂
Prof. Vikram Dutt
In 31 miles Vinita has given a fresh dimension to the definition of an affair.
In our current understanding, an affair is linked with physicality. She has very creatively and imaginatively, explored the realm of the psyche getting involved, through an online affair.
And what is more invasive?
Body or the mind?
A love affair involves both body and mind.
But an affair?
Only the body.
And an online affair?
Only the mind? Or thoughts? Or psyche!
Vinita becomes an explorer in the book where the protagonist, a loving wife and mother, learns computers to better utilise her time; and gets into an online affair, across the globe. She, here in New Delhi and the ‘online-lover’ in California.
Does she give an answer?
Read it, experience it, live it out in your thoughts…
31 miles is one of the most amazing books I have read in the recent past, comparing favourably with ‘The girl on the train’ for the unusual quality of the plot.
In today’s digital world with computers and tablets and smartphones and internet ruling our lives, Vinita takes us a step forward…into our psyche, in such a digital world. Without defining it, she subtly (and maybe unknowingly) differentiates between the mind and the psyche. Dr. Wilder Penfield, a leading neurologist and considered the father of micro-neurosurgery, wrote the epochal ‘Mystery of the Mind’ about half a century ago, where he made the distinction between the mind – a metaphysical entity – and the brain…a totally definable physical organ of the human body. The brain is in the skull. And the mind? In the brain? Or does it share residential space within the heart?
So too does Vinita force the reader to explore emotions. Are they a synonym for the Psyche? Or is it entirely metaphysical…
It is intriguing. Especially when she introduces a spiritual guru as a possible solution to the protagonist’s troubled emotions (or psyche?) when a 31 miles drive, to give a physical add-on to the virtual friendship, is not taken in the verdant romantic Switzerland, leaving her disturbed, almost shattered.
Disturbed enough to seek a metaphysical or spiritual guru…on the recommendation of a friend who relates her ‘chilled-out’ attitude to this Guru Ma.
The protagonist, and some aspects of her life are such that almost every reader can identify with them: she is a conventionally successful person, with a doting husband, loving daughter, transitioning to a successful business person and entrepreneur, yet with voids within her. Where do these voids occupy their abode? Heart, soul, mind, even body, psyche, emotions? Read 31 miles and make your personalized judgement.
This is the beauty of Vinita’s mind and creativity, transcreated through her words, that it encourages every readers’ personal response.
Highly recommended… teenagers upwards!
Yesha - Books Teacup and Reviews
Thank you for sharing your thoughts!
E. Michael Helms, writer
Very nice, in-depth review! 🙂
Books Teacup and Reviews
Thank you! ☺️