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Welcome to Paradise by Twinkle Khanna

My take on the book:

Welcome to Paradise is a collection of five short stories, mostly centered around human emotions like grief, loneliness, heartbreak. The five stories do not have the same length as two stories are quick reads while the other three are considerably long.

The first story ‘The Man from the Garage’ begins with the death of Huma’s Amma and while the relatives from her father’s side and Amma’s side debate if they will burn or bury her, Huma reminisces her life spent with Amma. Huma’s daughter Sara also recollects her days with her Nani and the Man from the Garage and wonders why her Nani put up with all the violence from That Man.

The second story ‘Let’s Pretend’ is about Amita’s Bua who made an online friend Sumit in the later years of her life, as both exchange bits of their life through emails. When Amita unexpectedly meets Sumit in person, she cannot reveal her identity to Sumit or the truth about Bua.

In the third story ‘Nearly Departed’ Madhura Desai wrote a letter to the Chief Justice of India, requesting his permission for euthanasia, after she suffered a stroke while alone at home and the future seems bleak as life seems to be leaving her body slowly. As her appeal goes viral across the country, NGO workers take up for her case, media wants a byte from her, but Madhura only wants to look back at her memories with her best friend Pipi who is also slowly losing his memory.

The fourth one ‘Welcome to Paradise’ is about Garima and the changing equation with her husband Neil after she found that her husband has cheated on her. As she stays back in Goa with her mother Leela on her break from her husband, she gets attracted to Pais who ran a shack. While Garima judged her mother for her relationships as frivolous, Garima is also looking for the same Paradise as her mother.

The fifth story ‘Jelly Sweets’ is about Nusrat who was considered lucky when the groom who came to meet her sister married Nusrat instead. However, her happiness was short lived when her young son passed away after getting hit by a cricket ball. The grief gets so unbearable for Nusrat transporting her to a world where there is no coming back; she even loses her voice and stops communicating with her family. Will Nusrat be able to move on from this loss forms the rest of the story.

Overall, the book is a mix of stories that impress and those which leave the reader underwhelmed, especially the first two with no-closure to the characters and abrupt ending. The highlight of the stories are the keen observations of the author about the simpler things in life, how we often judge others without ever thinking from their perspective and how life can be unfair and cruel. 

The author begins every story in a simple way but slowly reveals the layers of each of the character, leaving the reader in awe of how complex characters are introduced in an intriguing way. The wit and humor mixed in the narration in the most tragic sequences is sure to capture the reader’s interest. The characters, their background and the timelines are also very diverse in all the five stories, which provides the much-needed variety. 

My personal favorites are Nearly Departed followed by Jelly Sweets — both have the right mix of hope and tragedy, grief and happiness and stay with you even after the story ends. I read the earlier works of the author, and this is definitely her best to date. If you like reading stories that depict slice-of-live without unnecessary sugar-coating, then this is the right pick for you. 

My rating: