Guest Post: Does Love Still Exist? #LoveComesLater #Romance
Does Love Still Exist?
By Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar author of Love Comes Later
St. Valentine may be horrified by the cherubs touting candy, flowers or jewelry. The overemphasis of eros, or romantic love, may have merged out of rampant marketeering. Between Christmas and Easter, after all, is a lot of retail silence. In modern society, with women marrying later, and partners divorcing earlier – not waiting for children to grow up – does love still exist?
I had a great idea in 2009; I would write a book about how a modern person with traditional values would find love. I didn’t think this would be so difficult. After all, I’d managed to resist the pressures of my own South Asian culture until the spinsterly age of 26, when, as my father put it, “to find a good man who would make a commitment to me” even if he wasn’t Indian.
Fresh from an unlikely, whirlwind romance in the desert, I sat down to explore in fiction the difficult choices facing young Qatari men and women amongst the myriad dilemmas of love, choice, honor, and duty.
The Qatari characters were based on a meld of dozens of stories I knew of real people; but the insertion of a South Asian girl into the love triangle was all my own.
I put Abdulla, the male protagonist, and Sangita, the unexpected loved interest, in a small London apartment. And waited for sparks to fly. In a Disneyesque-romantic genre, move, they were on a countdown; three days.
But nothing was happening. There they were; young, attractive, in close proximity, and I couldn’t believe that they were falling in love. All the elements were there but the emotions were missing.
I started asking everyone: “How do people fall in love?”
My older Indian friends were surprised.
“Didn’t you have a love marriage?” They asked me, products of the arranged marriage system. “Don’t you know?”
“Seems so long ago,” I muttered, well out of earshot of my husband.
“I loved your book,” another friend said. “I’ve never known what love is…” she said, with a dreamy look in her, having been arranged to her husband.
“It’s all the same after a while,” I said to her dryly, watching our husbands on their mobile phones while we mothers ran after our children.
“But how can they fall in love,” I asked my Qatari friends, growing desperate for realism as the book entered a seemingly endless cycle of revisions.
“She has to be hot,” one of my male beta readers said, in all honesty.
Chemistry. Right. I forgot that part, somehow, settling into comfortable domesticity.
Abdulla and Sangita did eventually find their way in the story. The sequel to the book is in progress and explores an equally murky area: what happens after the spark? Are the chances for survival of ‘falling into’ love greater?
I grew up with the idea that no, falling in love did not guarantee romantic success; making allegiances between well researched partners was stacking the cards in your favor. My parents’ anti-falling in love argument was the 50% divorce rate in America.
We’ll see what happens for Abdulla and Sangita as they try to grow their spark into a fire to heat their home.
What do you think? Do you fall in and out of love? Or do you choose to love?
Winner of Best Indie Book Award, Romance, 2013
Semi Finalist, Best Novel, eFestival of Words, 2013
Finalist, New Talent Award, Festival of Romance, 2013
“…a deliciously tangled plot and insight into life on the Persian Gulf.”
Blurb: When newlywed Abdulla loses his wife and unborn child in a car accident, the world seems to crumble beneath his feet. Thrust back into living in the family compound, he goes through the motions—work, eat, sleep, repeat. Blaming himself for their deaths, he decides to never marry again but knows that culturally, this is not an option. Three years later, he’s faced with an arranged marriage to his cousin Hind, whom he hasn’t seen in years. Hard-pressed to find a way out, he consents to a yearlong engagement and tries to find a way to end it. What he doesn’t count on, and is unaware of, is Hind’s own reluctance to marry.
Longing for independence, she insists on being allowed to complete a master’s degree in England, a condition Abdulla readily accepts. When she finds an unlikely friend in Indian-American Sangita, she starts down a path that will ultimately place her future in jeopardy.
The greatest success of Rajakumar’s novel is the emotional journey the reader takes via her rich characters. One cannot help but feel the pressure of the culturally mandated marriage set before Hind and Abdulla. He’s not a real Muslim man if he remains single, and she will never be allowed freedoms without the bondage of a potentially loveless marriage. It’s an impossible situation dictated by a culture that they still deeply respect.
Rajakumar pulls back the veil on life in Qatar to reveal a glimpse of Muslim life rarely seen by Westerners.
About the Author: Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar is a South Asian American who has lived in Qatar since 2005. Moving to the Arabian Desert was fortuitous in many ways since this is where she met her husband, had a baby, and made the transition from writing as a hobby to a full time passion. She has since published seven e-books including a mom-ior for first time mothers, Mommy But Still Me, a guide for aspiring writers, So You Want to Sell a Million Copies, a short story collection, Coloured and Other Stories, and a novel about women’s friendships, Saving Peace.
Her recent books have focused on various aspects of life in Qatar. From Dunes to Dior, named as a Best Indie book in 2013, is a collection of essays related to her experiences as a female South Asian American living in the Arabian Gulf. Love Comes Later was the winner of the Best Indie Book Award for Romance in 2013 and is a literary romance set in Qatar and London. The Dohmestics is an inside look into compound life, the day to day dynamics between housemaids and their employers.
After she joined the e-book revolution, Mohana dreams in plotlines. Learn more about her work on her website at www.mohanalakshmi.com or follow her latest on Twitter: @moha_doha.
Posted on February 16, 2014, in Blogging, Book Promotion, Fiction, Guest Post, Romance and tagged Does Love Still Exists? Book Promotion, Guest Post, Love Comes Later, Romance. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.