Great expectations

Ambika Shaligram
Sunday, 13 May 2018

Author Siddhesh Inamdar tells us the story of a marriage and the churning that accompanies it

The road to marriage, and thereafter is rarely smooth. So is the case with Rohan Shastri and Ira Sebastian wedding. No, this doesn’t touch upon the 2 States theme. It’s about two people, with differing sense of what they want from a marriage, from their partner, and small and great expectations.

Siddhesh Inamdar, author of The Story of a Long-Distance Marriage, explains what his protagonists want, and more...

How much of The Story of a Long-Distance Marriage is borrowed from your life? The arguments are very real...

The premise of the story is borrowed from real life. Some of the characters, situations and conversations too have some basis in reality. The story, though, is a work of re-imagination and reconstruction of these elements drawn from real life in order to develop a plot that keeps the reader engaged with its dramatic ups and downs.

My writing style was influenced by the books — memoirs and biographies — I have been editing for five years now. I consciously chose to start the story in the manner of a memoir to further give it a realistic feel, and my effort throughout the book, even when the scenes were entirely fictional, and particularly during the conversations between Rohan and Ira, was to retain this effect so that the reader would relate to the narrative. A subject like marriage calls for realism in the writing, else it would be very shallow.

Does one always need a role model in life? Why would Rohan, who complained about becoming exactly like Ira, would go on to ape Tanuj? Again, isn’t Tanuj too perfect for words?
No, one doesn’t always need a role model in life. But Rohan was at a place in life where he felt he was getting things wrong — in his personal life, to begin with; and then when he sees Tanuj, who is the same age as him and from a similar background, doing better than him, he starts thinking he has got things wrong in his professional life too. 

He wants a role model because he thinks he can do better in his life if he emulates others who are doing better than him. Rohan undergoes a lot of introspection in the book about a lot of things in his life, and when he makes Tanuj a role model, it’s a facet of this introspection and his effort to improve himself. Tanuj is perfect in Rohan’s eyes at that point in his life because he wants him to be perfect — because Rohan sees him as someone he can learn from and model himself after. If he does not see him as perfect, he would once again be at a loose end.

The whole story is told from Rohan’s viewpoint, so it’s natural that Tanuj comes across as perfect. Outside of Rohan’s perspective, Tanuj would very well have his flaws that Rohan is choosing not to see. 

Can anyone be right or wrong in a marriage? 
No one is right or wrong all the time, in a marriage or in any relationship. But my effort in the story was to show the need for one to think of where the other person is coming from. In the closing chapters, Rohan is able to see the long-distance marriage as something that is essential for Ira’s growth in her own life —  because he tries to see things from her point of view.

Earlier he saw himself as a liberal, understanding husband but his male sense of entitlement came up the first time they had a minor fight. For the rest of the story, his effort is to move beyond this shallow idea of their marriage and really understand Ira and why the long-distance marriage is important for her, just as Ira had done things for him which she didn’t like, but she knew were important for him. The point was to show that while one can never be right or wrong, one should always try to do as much right by the other person as possible.

Can a pet/s make a difference to a marriage? 
I feel having a pet generally helps one be in a happy place, and that would have an effect on any relationship. When you have another living being to care for, you, on the whole, become more caring and empathetic as a person. The pet would also act as a buffer between a married couple in times of distress.

Do you see a sequel in here, for the story to be carried forward?
My desire in writing this story was to map Rohan’s growth — from seeing the long-distance marriage as an inconvenience, to a point where he truly sees it as something really essential for Ira’s growth. This objective is achieved by the end of the story. Rohan comes to terms with the distance in the closing lines of the book. So I don’t see a sequel to it.

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