Benign Flame : Saga of Love by Murthy, B.S.. The attractions Roopa experienced and the fantasies she entertained as a teen shaped a male imagery that ensconced her subconscious. Insensibly, confident carriage came to be associated with the image of maleness in her mind-set. Her acute consciousness of masculinity only increased her vulnerability to it, making her womanliness crave for the maleness for its gratification. However, as her father was constrained to help her in becoming a doctor, she opts to marry, hoping that Sathyam might serve her cause though the persona she envisioned as masculine, she found lacking in him. But as he fails to go with her idea, she becomes apathetic towards him, and insensibly sinks into her friend Sandhya’s embrace, for lesbian solace.
In time, she comes in contact with Tara the suave call girl who unsuccessfully tries to rope her into her calling to achieve which she introduces Ravi the seducer. However, when Roopa goes to attend Sandhya’s wedding, she loses her heart to Raja Rao the groom even as Prasad, her husband’s lecherous friend falls for her. The scheming Prasad induces Sathaym to go the corrupt way besides weaning him away from Roopa with the aid of whores to make his path clear to her amour and that throws her into a dilemma. But as fate puts Raja Rao into Roopa’s arms, how the tale ends is best described by one Mr. Spencer Critchley, thus: “It’s a refreshing surprise to discover that the story will not trace a fall into disaster for Roopa, given that many writers might have habitually followed that course with a wife who strays into extramarital affairs.”
Unfolding the compelling saga of Roopa’s love and loss, governed by the vicissitudes of life, this ‘novel’ nuances man-woman chemistry on one hand, and portrays woman-woman empathy on the other.
Who said the novel is dead; ‘Benign Flame’ raises the bar.
. That winter night in the mid-seventies, the Janata Express was racing rhythmically on its tracks towards the coast of Andhra Pradesh. As its headlight pierced the darkness of the fertile plains, the driver honked the horn as though to awake the sleepy environs to the spectacle of the speeding train. On that, in the S-3, were the Ramaiahs with their nine year-old daughter Roopa.
Earlier, from Ramavaram, it was in the nick of time that Ramaiah took Janaki to Vellore for the doctors to extricate her from the jaws of death. Now, having been to Tirupati for thanksgiving, he was returning home with his wife and Roopa they took along for the sojourn. While her parents were fast asleep, Roopa sat still on a side berth, reminiscing her times at the hospital where Janaki took one month to recuperate under Dr. Yasoda’s care.
Soon the train stopped at a village station, as though to disrupt Roopa’s daydreams of modeling herself on the lady doctor at the Christian Medical College Hospital, and as she peeped out, the ill-lit platform seemed to suggest that the chances of her being Dr. Roopa could be but dim. Ramaiah too woke up to the commotion caused by the incoming passengers, and was surprised to see his daughter still awake, lost in her thoughts.
“My darling,” he said in jest, “what are you scheming?”
“Want to be a doctor,” she said as though in a trance.
“Didn’t the nurses say,” he said affectionately, bringing her escapades at the hospital back into her mental focus, “you’re a junior doctor?”, and pleased with her idea, he patted her to sleep, even as he recalled his anxieties associated with her birth.
Ramaiah was jolted from his reverie as someone in the compartment switched on the light, to prepare himself to alight at the coming station.
‘Surely she would shape up into a dusky beauty. Won’t she be bright as well?’ he thought, looking at Roopa in her deep sleep, and recalled her escapade when she was hardly three.
“You know how clever Roopa is?” said Janaki, at bedtime. “She wanted the timepiece to fiddle with and when I refused to give in, she cried no end. When she forgot what she was crying for, she cried to know why she cried at all! What a unique girl our Roopa is!”
. Benign Flame was born out of my conviction that for fiction to impact readers, it should be the soulful rendering of characters rooted in their native soil but not the hotchpotch of local and foreign caricatures sketched on a hybrid canvas.. Project Gutenberg Self-Publishing – eBooks