Sexy, surprising, and subversively wise, Babyji is the story of Anamika Sharma, a spirited student growing up in Delhi. At school she is an ace at quantum physics. At home she sneaks off to her parents' scooter garage to read the Kamasutra. Before long she has seduced an elegant older divorcee and the family servant, and has caught the eye of a classmate coveted by all the boys.
With the world of adulthood dancing before her, Anamika confronts questions that would test someone twice her age. Ebullient, unfettered, and introducing one of the most charming heroines in contemporary fiction, Babyji is irresistible.
Anamika's the kind of girl her traditional peers aren't quite sure about: is the sexually precocious heroine of Dawesar's second novel (after Miniplanner) a feminine Didi or a masculine Bhaiyya, a cerebral schoolgirl or a predatory lecher? After studying chaos theory in her high school physics textbook, Anamika feels justified in pursuing three simultaneous same-sex affairs, with her doting servant, her impressionable schoolmate and a beautiful older woman who inspires such complicated feelings that Anamika nicknames her India, after their vast and varied homeland. Anamika uses sex as a means to investigate life's chemistry and her autonomy outside of rigid Brahmin mores. Despite the intensity of her passion, particularly for India, Anamika's comic stiffness is evident in such amorous declarations as "I want to collapse my wave function into you." As issues of caste, meritocracy and self-sacrifice arise, Anamika purifies her intentions by channeling them into helping a troubled male student, Chakra Dev, who's almost as oversexed as she is. If the unusual secondary characters occasionally seem as gratuitous as pornographic movie extras, Anamika's ponderings and emotional reversals are lavished with as much attention as a 16-year-old girl would demand. Despite its meandering path, the novel achieves an impressive balance between moral inquiry and decadent pleasure, pleasing the intellect and the senses - if not necessarily the heart - of the open-minded reader.
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Showing 1-2 of the 2 most recent reviews
1 . Solidly entertaining read about the intricacies of intimate female relationships
Posted June 25, 2011 by C , White PlainsI thought Babyji to be a really well-written book that explored the depths of young sexual awakening and how intricate, intimate, passionate and painful female relationships can be. Even though I am a young lesbian and identified so much with many of the main character's musings on love and relationships, especially as they involve other women I wouldn't necessarily call this a book about "coming out".
Instead, Dawesar gives us a full-frontal look at this young, precarious mind with very little intentions ... in fact, I would agree that there is not much plot to the story and the ending is rather abrupt and low-key. I rather enjoyed that however, because it enabled the author's writing to be highlighted, and kept the reader focused on the inner-workings of the main character's mind and the story of true, fluid and intense female sexuality.
2 . CAPTIVATING
Posted January 23, 2010 by Gioconda A. , Altadena, CAWhat a wonderful story about self discovery and love. Very unconventional relationships in a very conventional world. Tender and pasionate- I enjoyed every page.
February 07, 2005
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Excerpt from Babyji by Abha Dawesar
Delhi is a city where things happen undercover. A city where the horizon is blanketed with particulate pollution and the days are hot. A city with no romance but a lot of passion. You ask how passion without romance is possible? The same way sex without a nightlife is possible. Delhi churns slowly, secretively. What emerges is urgency.
In the Delhi I grew up in, everything happened. Married women fell in love with pubescent girls, boys climbed up sewage pipes to consort with their neighbors' wives, and students went down on their science teachers in the lab. But no one ever talked about it.
I used to be innocent, driven solely by the ambition to do something great for my country, something that involved physics. My knowledge of the facts of life was based entirely on books, and clean ones at that. I read nineteenth-century classics by George Eliot and Emily Bront?. These books never went into any details. To remedy this I decided to read Vatsyayana's Kamasutra. I had to do this while standing in the scooter garage, which had been converted into a storeroom. I would sneak out with a flashlight after my parents had gone to sleep. The Kamasutra that I force-fed myself seemed completely of another world, alien and absurd. After I read it, however, magical things started to happen. In particular, I met a woman. We first met in my school. She had come to attend the parent-teacher meeting. I was the Head Prefect.
"Where are the teachers for Class I?" she asked.
"In the Pushkin Block, ma'am," I replied.
I was susceptible at that age. I had been reading The Citadel by A. J. Cronin, in which the main female character was described as particularly handsome. I fancied for a moment that she was that handsome woman.
"I'll take you there, ma'am," I offered.
"What's your name?"
"Anamika," I replied.
"I like your tie," she said.
"Oh." I tugged and fiddled with my polyester number while we walked, suddenly conscious of the ridiculous figure I must cut in my school uniform of red socks and shirtsleeves. Like most schools, mine had a strict dress code. The girls wore gray box-pleated skirts. Boys up to the age of fourteen wore knickers. Everyone wore a striped red and silver tie except for the Prefects. We wore a silver and blue one.
I hated the ageism of Delhi and its antediluvian norms, which required you to address anyone older as Uncleji or Auntyji and anyone younger with diminutives. It precluded serious bonding with people older than you. I did not have the courage to ask this woman her name. She was of another generation; that sort of thing was just not done.
After I left her in front of the Pushkin Block, I felt my heart overflow with some kind of knowledge I could not immediately identify. I had imagined so many times how Newton must have felt when the apple dropped on his head and the weight of gravitational forces clicked into place. I fancied I felt that way, that a great discovery had just been made and all I had to do was write down its formula. I wished a simple object like an apple had been involved, something tangible that I could contemplate and hold, smell and bite.
I felt the urge to call her something. Something that no one else was called. A word that was not a name and that was still proportional to the immensity of the revelation unfolding within me. "India" was the first thing that slipped silently from my lips.
I hung around that part of campus so I could catch her on the way out. Eventually she emerged from the same doors that had earlier swallowed her. I pretended to look elsewhere. She came up behind me and tapped my shoulder.
"Do you like this school? I am thinking of putting my son in it," she said.
"Yes. Extracurricular activities are encouraged. We have horse riding."
"Do you know how to ride?"
"Yes, I've done it since Class II."
"I've always wanted to ride horses. But with so many extracurriculars, will you still do well on the board exams?" she asked.
"I probably will. I love to study."
"You'll do well no matter. You are obviously exceptional." She looked at the Head Prefect badge on my left breast pocket and smiled.
I shrugged. I was embarrassed but didn't want to show it.
"I have to go now. Drop by if you want to chat. Ride your bike over."
"How do you know I have a bike?"
"I've seen you bike around. I live in B-63. Come for a cold coffee on Saturday morning."
"That's tomorrow," she said, squeezing my hand, and left.