I had seen this book featured in the sunday newspaper awhile ago. I did think at that point of time ,that I must read it. Over the course of few months,I ended up forgetting about it,until I spotted it at the Just Books Library. The fact that it did have a lemon on the cover had a bit to do with my initial interest in it. The words ‘Toss of a lemon’ was very intriguing.
This book is set in the era when tamil brahmin agraharams flourished in Tamil Nadu. Sadly that concept has dwindled greatly with changing traditions,some good others not so much ! It talks about the journey of Sivakami,who has a sheltered upbringing and is married off in her teens and how her life changes thereafter. Married to a young man who,for those days was very broadminded as much as the community would allow him to be…he gently coaxes her on the path of being independent and self sufficient which later on provides her with the strength to nurture her own growing brood !
Along the way one is treated to little snippets of food relished in those homes,the way it is cooked and the people who cook it. The toss of a lemon refers to the lemon being used to ward off the evil eye. This book needs to be lingered over a few weeks…lots of details and spans many generations…from young girl to a great grandmother… in this book the author Padma Vishwanathan has essentially narrated,beautifully, Sivakami’s journey. Certain pages tend to get a bit heavy and may upset sensibilities. The book does creep into your thoughts and make you feel strangely familiar with the way life existed in those agraharams decades ago ! I enjoyed reading it and I know this story will not leave my memory bank in a hurry !