Slightly Burnt.What does the metaphor actually stand for ? Well,once you are abreast of the situation the book encapsulates, you will delve into the deeper realms of that phrase than what you can make out superficially from its cover. Yes,the title is indicative of ‘imperfections’. The imperfect is perfect because that is the way life is. And that’s the setting tone of the entire story.
This book is not just another telltale story of a gawking teenager ranting about the typical complications and frivolities of her personal life. Rather, this book is an uprising epiphany. It will bring along a ‘moment’ with itself. A ‘moment’ that you will be forced to dwell upon and ponder over for a long, long time.
Personally, when I picked this book up and started reading the first page, I initially perceived it as another categorical teenage love story spun around two childhood best friends, Sahil and Komal, fighting infatuation and hormones. Young love! Sigh. But slowly, not steadily,the surprise hits you and shelves all your misconceptions. And you are left as much astound as Komal herself in the story. Rocked to your core, you stand there still as the towering mound of your prejudice comes shattering down in front of your eyes and you discover the truth hiding underneath all those hazy layers of adolescent romance. But what is that truth? Continue turning the pages and you’ll find out.
Slightly Burnt – Synopsis
Komal, on the outside, is a normal teenager who rambles like pretty much any other girl in her teens, is acceptably snooty to her brother Vikram, and is strikingly vigorous in her endeavors. Her love for cooking and flair for writing embark her on a blogging feat and she is hugely serious and excited with all that there is to follow. Apart from all this cool stuff she does, she boasts of a best friend, Sahil, and a second best friend, Rashmi (of whom she would rather not boast much) !
Sahil is her bestest-of-the-best, the closest and easily the oldest and the primary friend with whom she shares all her secrets and expects the same in return. (They share a long history together from the times when they were crawling as tiny-tots).
But as she finds out that he is holding something from her, she gets more and more intrigued by his strange behavior which renders her restless, eager and impatient to unveil the truth.
Soon as her confusion turns into frustration and the truth unfolds itself, it seems hugely dark, hideous and scary upfront, unabashedly in-your-face and utterly indigestible for her tiny brain and delicate heart. She finds herself unable to stomach the words her best friend had just bared in front of her and seeks serious help to rectify the seemingly ugly situation. Ultimately what she discovers is mind-numbingly astonishing and dizzyingly enlightening.
Review of Slightly Burnt :
The writing is feisty and impetuous and quirky. The words are profound, yet liberating. Not cacophonous, but barefaced and clear. Honestly, you will fall in love with it.
The one thing that I can totally vouch for is that you do not get bored on even a single page of this book. The story the author spins, takes you on a magical tour with your introverted-self and makes you impudently question the grim realities of today’s societal norms.
It’s like, on the outside, you are silently reading a book but on the inside, you are screaming at the top of your voice! And what are you demanding with such brazen attempts? Some serious answers. Answers to the fates of your own brethren, may be, your own blood. You turn inside and out and reflect on how narrow and murky the mindset of most people is even today as they fail to grasp certain simple concepts that could have easily befitted the narrow lanes of their stringent minds, had they bothered opening up their vision, a slight bit, to see beyond the usual, to see the clearer truth and accept the ways of nature. But for some (and may be even you), it ain’t that easy, is it?
Payal Dhar’s writing is shoutingly-bold and an audacious take on common man’s stand making it a blatant attack on their shockingly-tiny acknowledgement of the wide variety of people that society of today is normally sectioned into.
The message she strives to deliver is right out there, glaringly loud, gaudy and transparent. The big question mark that stands against the future of the characters she has daintily sketched, prods you to think, and strive to jostle a way out of the mammoth trouble the entire situation looks headed towards, in the future.
Apart from that, the book is a breezy read. The message it doles out is some force to reckon with. And apparently, Slightly Burnt manages to linger with you unexpectedly longer than you would have anticipated while picking it up in the first place.
Memorable quotes from Slightly Burnt:
We are standing literally centimeters apart. He’s still holding me. His eyes are alive in a most peculiar way, shining, like they’re full to the brim with tears.
I stared at the blank sheet of paper before me, racking my brains desperately. What sort of messed-up sixteen-year-old was I that I didn’t have a single dirty little secret?
The school has a big thing about holistic learning.Oddly, that has nothing to do with godly stuff; it has to do with the importance of the ‘whole’ and how everything is connected to each other. I suspect they intended to spell it with a w, but there was a typo along the way and no one noticed.
She’d keep making pointed remarks about how she and I should hang out more and do girl things, What does that even mean? Talk about our periods?
He’s not the sort to say an entire sentence when a single word will do, which can be most annoying when you’re feeling chatty.
I’m a bit disconcerted by this new me that wants to treat my brother like a human.
Then the universe fixed itself, the stars aligned correctly or whatever. I don’t remember what broke the ice, but by the time Falak was born we were thick as thieves and even ganging up on Vikram. Poor Vikram, we’ve tormented him for years.
But in the darkness and a world of corners and shadows,even the things you know so well seem unfamiliar and alien. Like you’re in this obscure, murky reality that doesn’t quite feel like the one you live in even though you know it is.
I’m the worst best friend ever in the whole history of the entire cosmos.
‘Eew!’ said Rashmi, slapping a hand on her eye. ‘I can’t think of my cousins that way or…ugh, never mind.’ ‘Or your parents?’ I pressed relentlessly. My lunch threatened to make a reappearance.
The world is never going to be perfect. There will always be something to fight for.
I’m going to miss this. Skype might be great, but you can’t hold hands on Skype.
Excerpt from Slightly Burnt:
He dusted himself off and melted into the teeming crowd. There must’ve been about five hundred shined and coiffed guests here. Yet I was the only one who had fallen off her sandals? Why? On the other hand-just as well-less chances of someone scoping me out as a future daughter-in-law.
Sahil soon weaved himself back into view bearing a plate laden with deep-fried goodies.Vikram followed close behind.He was all dressed up too-kurta, pyjama, jacket, with pointy-ended shoes-but he didn’t seem to be having any wardrobe fails.It struck me that he was looking rather nice.
‘What are you staring at?” he demanded.
‘Your camera isn’t going with your outfit.’
‘I don’t know why I brought it –I don’t want to photograph boring strangers.’He sat down on Sahil’s other side, stretching his legs out.
‘This fashion gender divide is so unfair,’I said.’Why is it that women’s clothes are so inconvenient and look at you two-so…so…unencumbered!’
Slightly Burnt by Payal Dhar disrupts all former stereotypes that picking up a burning issue in today’s society and having a heated confrontation over it can be anything but fun, engaging and change-orienting. Payal Dhar has penned down a story with such keen narrative that seems to break the ice and strike a chord with all the readers. This story will leave an impact on you, somewhere so strong and deep inside, that you’ll want to keep coming back to it time and again. It will drastically change your mentality about some preconceived notions as it strives to push the boundaries and smash the ceiling. I would say it is a must-read for you and totally worth your indispensable time!
Read the complete book review of Slightly Burnt by Payal Dhar here. 💖