I Owed You One by Dr Madhu Vajpayee. Lifi Publishers, 2018
A letter from someone he would rather forget and a mysterious disappearance set the course of action for Dev Khanna, the protagonist of Dr Madhu Vajpayee’s latest book I Owed You One.
Spanning a volatile childhood deprived of paternal love in India and a dream life in Melbourne, the story, as the name suggests, is about a debt of gratitude for a favour.
Dev settles down in Melbourne after his mother’s death and deliberately distances himself from his father and family in India.
He meets, romances and marries the love of his life Radhika and then becomes a doting father to his son Neel. His tranquil suburban life in Melbourne, however, is shaken with the arrival of a letter from India.
In response to the letter, Dev feels compelled to embark on a journey back to his homeland with mixed feelings of trepidation and hope.
He travels to the clash-ridden streets of Moradabad, an Indian city suffering from communal riots, senseless acts of violence and deserted streets.
What follows is an emotional journey interspersed with religious foibles and tension between the Hindu and Muslim communities.
With courage and persistence, Dev tries to fulfil his commitment despite several setbacks. In his earnest attempt to unravel a mystery, he discovers his own fate.
Dr Madhu Vajpayee has sturdily crafted a tale that goes beyond being an intellectual indulgence for a medico.
Madhu completed her MBBS from KGMU Lucknow and MD from AIIMS New Delhi. She currently lives in Melbourne with her family and devotes most of her time to writing.
She began her writing journey at an early age, encouraged by her father, and shared his fascination for written words.
Several scientific papers and chapters in books later, she decided to venture into the literary world with her first book. Seeking Redemption is about a medical graduate who gets caught into corruption and caste politics.
I Owed You One is Madhu’s second book. According to her, this book also has a bit of love and drama interwoven amidst the uncertainty of life.
The writer has skilful control on the narrative and smoothly transports readers from an idyllic life in the world’s most liveable city to hostile and conflict-ridden surroundings.
The battle that rages within Dev is captured with sensitivity and portrayed with substance. The momentum and interest is maintained in most parts with minor lapses towards the end.
Zoya’s disappearance is the root cause of Dev’s journey but details of what exactly happened to her remain rather sketchy.
Madhu has remarkably voiced the story from a male perspective, capturing the complex landscape of Dev’s mind and nudging her protagonist back to a place of hope.
I would stop short of calling it a page-turner. However, the writer definitely offers the readers a good story.
The book will be launched on 23 March 2018, 7:00pm, at Phyllis Hore Room, Kew Public Library, Cotham Rd & Civic Dr, Kew VIC 3101