If you were to consider the fact that almost 50,000 books get published in India each year, then the arrival of new publishing houses will only swell these awesome figures. Once in a while, comes a book like No Trespassing by Brinda S Narayan—a work that leaves you craving more than its 300-odd pages. Vedika and her family move from America back to the idyllic gated community of Fantasia, near Bengaluru. It’s only by-invitation, an ultra-luxury modern housing complex with its own private forest, lake and golf course away from the urban chaos.
Around it rise the turrets of light-scattering towers, sprouting amidst bent grass and bamboo clumps. In the wash of IT companies have come the call centres. Her neighbours are the rich and famous whom Vedika tries to befriend. All homes are uniformly the same: faux fireplaces and German kitchens, on marble floors topped with weather-proof tiles, a sense of order in the middle of chaos.
The community, with its 100 acres sewn together, is the signature project of the enigmatic Kusro—the Cartier of Indian builders—who is treated like a demi-god. And this is not his only dream, there are five-gated projects spread across four cities, with the who’s who of the rich-n-famous lining up to drop anchor and call it home. Inside the looming gates of the community is life lived surrounded by well laid-out, planned gardens with designated play areas. Outside its walls is the chaos of Bharat.
Over time, though, she begins to sense that something is affecting her five-year-old son, Sajan. He seems foggy at times, unable to comprehend simple instructions. Other children living in Fantasia too begin to show similar behavioural problems. Before his scheduled appointment with a doctor, Sajan dies in a freak accident in the generator room. Vedika is jolted out of her numbing grief by a shocking revelation: her boy had been murdered.
Anxious to find out what exactly happened to her son, Vedika starts investigating his death. As she unravels her memories and neighbours’ pasts, she discovers sinister links between Fantasia and her own past. This is one time when all the paper origami collages (made to seek solace and soothe her soul) are, for once, not going to be of much help.
And anyway, the series of recent jolts have left the lingering feeling that she could not withstand another lightning strike. The plot thickens even as parts of the gated community are neglected, they become tatty. But the arrival of a Swiss accreditation committee is an occasion to whip things back into shape. The emails advise residents to ensure that ‘Dog owners must pick up dog litter, children must park bikes in garages, garbage must be sealed in black trash bags’.
Meanwhile, the clubhouse floor is polished, the swimming pool scoured, the benches repainted, the grass pruned and everything is put back in order to impress the visitors from overseas.While all this is happening, the children remain hermetically sealed off from outside reality and are beginning to wilt. There is something that bothers the little ones... In the interest of fairplay and justice, I daren’t tell you more.Gripping, tense and disquieting, this book is guaranteed to deal you a knock-out blow.
By: Brinda S Narayan
Publisher: Westland Books