on Sep. 29, 2016 :
I was not sure at first about Soulmates. The description called it a "poetic description of much anticipated first night of a couple", which sounded to me like a poem about a wedding night.
But there were several reviews for this story, which is rare for Smashwords, and all of them good, so I decided to check it out.
At first I didn't like the story. It was a lot of narrative with no breaks of dialog and action. Hiranya Borah has a very formal, literary style which is off-putting at first.
But then the action started.
It actually started with Arunabh, the groom, calling off the wedding dramatically because his father was offered a dowry from the bride's father.
This made me immediately like Arunabh. Having been born and raised in New England in the United States, I've never liked the idea of a dowry and Arunabh being an anti-dowry advocate definitely makes him likeable. It's even realistic that he doesn't like it because his mother is against it as well.
Rini, his bride-to-be, meets Arunabh to keep him from breaking the engagement. Her shyness is endearing to me, and I actually enjoy the conversation she has with Arunabh. Even though he shouted at Rini's father about the dowry over the phone, he was very civil with Rini, and agreed to keep the engagement.
But this conversation is so awkward! Rini ends up asking him to promise never to leave her, and he doesn't answer! That really made me cringe!
Even though the story had my attention and was easier to read, I didn't actually start to like it until their wedding night. But this is when we really get to know both Rini and Arunabh.
Arunabh proved to be gentle and sweet. And definitely very modern, which Rini hadn't been expecting. He told her not to kiss his feet, which is custom, and to remove her veil. He also brought her food instead of telling her to bring him food. I love Arunabh because of how gentle he is with Rini, and how much of an equal opportunist he is.
‘You are equal partner in my life. Your status is not below my status in any respect. Never try to touch my feet which only show dignity of a wife is not at par with her husband. That is against my principle of equality of husband and wife.’
And Rini returned the kindness when Arunabh expressed insecurities about his looks.
Never ask me, whether I love you or not. Never ask me whether I am happy with you or not. Never ask under what compulsion I agreed to marry you. Never tell me that you are an ordinary person. You are and you always will be special to me.’
But even though this was an overall good story, I didn't like it all the way. While this was mostly well-written prose, there were a few sentences with awkward structures, or words missing. Not enough to be distracting, but definitely enough to be noticeable, especially in a short story that's less than 7,000 words.
Most transitions from scene to scene were excellent, but the last transition wasn't. Not only was it abrupt, but the last paragraph is a summary ten years later told by a different point of view-- someone who's not important and we don't know. It even switches point of view. It goes from third person to first. It's really weird and appears sloppy.
On top of that, there was a huge change in Rini's character on her wedding night. Originally she was portrayed as a really shy girl who didn't talk much. But after getting married to Arunabh, she talked for paragraphs!
Yes, she was still quite self-conscious. And Arunabh was taken aback by her talkativeness as well, but it was really sudden. Their last meeting, when she asked him not to break the enagement, was really awkward and she didn't talk that much. Now, on their wedding night, she is able to talk a lot and even tease Arunabh with a familiarity they didn't have before.
Maybe they got to know each other better between that conversation and their wedding night, but I doubt it. After all, if they were comfortable and familiar with each other, then why would she kiss his feet when he's so obviously against the wife submitting to the husband like that?
Soulmates is definitely a good story and worth reading, especially if you are interested in learning new cultures, or want a quick read.
(review of free book)