Lament of Mohini is like a jigsaw puzzle. Sprawling, fragmented, buzzing with cross-currents. This is the saga of
an aristocratic Kerala family. Five generations caught up in a rambling, rambunctious retelling of their lives. Who
holds it all together? A young Chennai-based scion named Gopi Narayan. His pedestrian life is turned upside
down when he encounters the historian-turned-novelist Rangachari.
The latter's manuscript threatens to recount all the innermost secrets of Gopi's ancestors in Kilikkara. Secrets
include the curse of the lost chakra, and the frenetic nights that preceded Diamond Week when the mother of
the first-born female child was promised a magnificent necklace. Can Gopi stall Rangachari?
Varma's sleight of word is dramatic and dazzling. His pages teem with eccentric matriarchs and men of leisure,
family feuds and lusty liaisons. A romantic poet dallies with illusions. A patriarch is caught in a time warp. A
contemporary character lives a chimerical existence. As the multi-pronged plot unwinds, the reader is swept
away in a rich fantasy that seems almost tangible.
The novel's teeming cast connects the past with the present through myriad voices. Gopi's, which is colloquial,
is studded with imagination-rich coined words; excerpts from the lauded poet's diary, which somersaults over the
generations before reverting to mere narrative; taut sequences of family 'history' that infuse the happenings,
randomly tempered with Tamil and Malayalam words; dialogue sprinkled with a desi brand of wit and vagary.
This is a tight-paced, loose-knit saga that demands a leisurely read. Because, if you're in a hurry, you might
lose track of the relationships and the essential plot.