Mapping Love by Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari (Rupa Publications) is a novel that explores grief and loss, and how sometimes revisiting the past can lead to a change of perspective. Oorja returns home to India from the USA, after the death of her mother, the only person who gave her solace. She finds her estranged father missing. Following this, there starts a search that leads her places- literally and emotionally. As she travels the country she looks at the past and the future with new eyes. She grapples with grief and with love.
This is a story about finding oneself. Oorja lands up in Benaras seeking her father after the death of her mother. But here she is, actually finding herself in the process. It is a dialogue with herself. The novel gives the reader an insight into Oorja’s inner emotional world through the pondering and monologues. The reader traces this journey of self-discovery and evolves with Oorja as the novel progresses. Her unique way of grieving by trying to make sense of the past and connect it to the present is poignant. I do believe that many readers will identify with that.
The first half of the story jostles between the present and the past. The story of her childhood in India, her trysts in America and her current journey in her country as she navigates the loss of family, all combine together to paint a picture of Oorja. As we read a sense of suspense builds up. Why is her father missing? Where is the grandfather who lives in the midst of the forest? Will the missing pieces of the puzzle of her life ever be rejoined? What will the protagonist discover in this journey? Will she find herself in the process?
And yet, while Mapping Love is a story about loss, grief and emotions, it is not overly-emotional. One can resonate with it. It is easy to connect with the protagonist. She faces challenges similar to what many of us face today. Unresolved trauma from childhood, a disconnect with the self even in a hyperconnected world and a loss of connection with nature and people. But despite this, the book shows how introspection and being with our inner self is sometimes all the cure one needs!