A Modern Romeo & Juliet
I was pulled in from the start to this story and especially felt for Bijay all the way through. Ash, on the other hand, comes off as a bit shallow and self-centered, too wallowing in self-pity of being "only a middle-class girl."
Read the story now
The author sets up the world both Ash and Bijay live in quite well, and we see into each character's lens so clearly BRAVO to AryaTara! I especially liked hearing from Bijay's point of view and was utterly heartbroken how he would do anything for his disabled mom and made so many personal sacrifices to his parents, only to be forced into a marriage he never wanted. Oh, Romeo, Romeo, where art thou?
A well-thought-out story depicting how the triangle of the monied class offspring is not always a pretty picture. How certain "family traditions" can be toxic to love and humanity as a whole.
If I'm not mistaken, it's also a subtle hint the world does not need to "empower women" any more than men. We need to empower humanity as a whole. Bijay's world was really oppressed more than Ash's in many ways, as was Ash's father's that went off into an army no man belongs in more than any woman. would he have been killed if not on the way to some army camp? I wonder how many readers caught that? among the worst "family traditions" is being subjugated into violence for profit.
I don't want any more spoilers but want to say that Ash's mom drove me nuts with her overprotective shield, treating her grown out-of-college daughter like a teenager with a curfew. The feeble female and toxic masculinity are played out in a more than nuanced way, but there nonetheless. Not sure if this was intended or just my interpretation seeing how the patriarchial world hurts foremost boys, not girls.
Some paragraphs are a bit dense and could be tightened, and some parts went too fast. (for example, you brought us from the party Ash's mom threw for her new friends to a concession stand within a sentence. I felt like there was lost opportunity for the reader to see into Ash's world more, at her modest home with her Mom)
Overall, a heartbreaking, profound story that moves the reader to tears, joy, and back again.