March 9, 2003
Love, however unlikely, does find a way
K. Rajbir Deswal
Yadav — A
Roadside Love Story
by Jill Lowe. Penguin. Pages 279. Rs 250
amorous tale of a 40-plus hard-boiled Haryanvi man and a 50-plus
dyed-in-the-wool English woman is a pleasurable, picaresque odyssey
showcasing the realities of the cold climes of England and the
warmth of the subcontinent.
Jill Lowe, an
upper-class woman and mother of five, is a tourist guide who loses
her possessions and is separated from her husband who goes bankrupt.
Her life becomes a series of bills, payments, visits from bailiffs,
nervous breakdowns and apprehension regarding the upbringing and
education of her children.
Lal Singh Yadav is a
widower, father of four and grandfather of five. He is a
happy-go-lucky taxi driver who lives with his large family on his
farm in Haryana near Delhi. Although simple-hearted, he is a rough,
uncouth, foul-mouthed drunkard.
The chemistry between
the two is not surprising given their physical proximity. Jill had
spent over 15 years in the company of Bobs and Johns, Eds and Bills,
Joes and Kevs — all bus-drivers. But in the case of Yadav, Jill
confessed, there existed "…a magical, inexorable cord that
draws two people together."
Jill faces her ordeals
and at 52, chooses to visit India, which in her friend’s words was
‘almost like a disease but quite a nice one’, since she knew
nothing about it. She wanted to prove to her ex-husband that she was
just as capable of coping with life on the subcontinent as he had
apparently been. There she met Yadav, who besides driving her on
bumpy Indian roads, offered to double up as her friend, philosopher,
guide and ultimately husband.