An Indian Lieutenant’s Elusive Bride, Col MS Sandhu, Unistar Books Pvt Ltd, Pp 258, Rs 495.00
This is an autobiography of a young Lieutenant who is commissioned into the Army and whose story begins with a description of the city of Chandigarh, designed by French town planner, Le Corbusier. The protagonist boasts of the beauty of the city with its civic amenities and shopping plazas whose pavements are crisscrossed by innumerable foot falls of strolling women, girls, youth and children, “like the clouds being driven by the wind in no definite direction.”
On his first posting to Jaipur, a small military station with paucity of government accommodation, he takes up a flat with plenty of green space surrounding it and where children and youth come to play cricket and badminton in the evening. Adjoining his flat lives a South Indian Brahmin family of Mr Vishwanathan, an engineer, whose son Ravi plays cricket with the Lieutenant. Ravi’s sister Rajni becomes friends with the Lieutenant and they have an affair. Rajni is exceptionally bright in her studies and is planning to appear for the Civil Services examination. The love affair between the Lieutenant and Rajni continues without the knowledge of Mr Vishwanathan, who is already busy finding a suitable Tamilian boy for his daughter.
One day Rajni meets with an accident and receives head injuries, which make her land in hospital. She recovers after treatment, though she still suffers from severe headaches. Now the story shifts to the Lieutenant’s colleague and friend, Vipin, who is in love with a Punjabi girl named Poonam and who is now carrying his child. Lieutenant Sandhu decides to enter the scene and befriends Poonam’s parents and after winning their affection, he manages to persuade Mrs Chopra to agree to her daughter’s marriage to Vipin. Though Poonam’s father, Mr Chopra, is himself an army man, he is not very favourably inclined towards Vipin. However, with persistent endeavour and hard work, the Lieutenant succeeds in getting Vipin to marry his sweetheart Poonam.
There is another colleague of Lieutenant Sandhu and he is called Shukla, who on regular visits to a brothel, falls in love with a twenty-one-year-old dancing girl named Rosy and wants to marry her. On talking to her, he discovers that Rosy had been kidnapped as a child and sold to the brothel, though she hailed from a well-to-do Sharma family, which has been living in sorrow since the disappearance of Rosy from their home. Lieutenant Sandhu and Shukla decide to locate Rosy’s parents and after a lot of enquiries find out where the Sharmas live and help to unite them with their daughter Rosy. The Sharmas are only too happy to get their daughter married to Shukla.
On retirement from the army, one day he is seated in a restaurant when a middle-aged South Indian woman comes and sits on a chair lying vacant on his table. They start talking to each other and after meeting a number of times, he discovers that she is his erstwhile Rajni and they decide to begin life afresh.
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