The soul can never be cut into pieces by any weapon, nor can he be burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind, preached Sri Krishna to Arjuna. But several women's heart, soul, dreams, wishes, aspirations, hope, existence, pride, identity is burnt in the offering given to the holy fire during their wedding ceremony. Marriage is for only namesake, in fact it becomes the funeral pyre which consumes them there and then itself. Meera was burnt in one such pyre and her heart wrenching story is the plot of Avantika Debnath's debut novel - The Bridal Pyre: Nainam Dahati Pavakah (2015).
Protagonist Meera is well educated, works in an MNC and earns a handsome salary. She bumps into the profile of an NRI, Abhijit, on a matrimonial site and initially refuses to accept his proposal. But after talking to him over the phone and Skype for nearly three months, without even meeting him in person even once, she readily accepts to marry him. Yes, he brainwashes her in such a way that she gives up her dance, which was her soul and even quits her job to marry him.
Meera realises that the castle Abhi had built was merely of sand and all his promises were fake. His parents, especially his mother, taunts her every day and make her life a living hell. Abhi loses his job in the US and stoops down to misuse Meera's savings. He goes on to support his mother and father who mentally and physically harass Meera.
Abhi watches silently when his mother pushes pregnant Meera downstairs. Meera suffers a miscarriage and she loses faith on her husband completely. After 11 months of pain, Meera rebels and questions her husband and mother-in-law about their greed for money and gold. Abhi's mother, who had killed her own mother-in-law, who had earlier attempted to kill Meera, tries to kill Meera again. But Meera escapes by rushing outside and saving her life.
Meera goes back to her parents and decides to face the society and fight for justice. Did she succeed in getting justice? What are the hurdles she faced after leaving her husband forms the climax of the novel. Readers are treated with several expected and unexpected twists and turns in the later half of the novel.
The language is simple, and yes the narration wins the hearts of readers. Readers feel that Meera is an old childhood friend who is narrating her story to them. At one point or the other readers, especially women, can identify themselves with the protagonist. The story of Meera is sure to haunt readers for several days.