"Parvez" by Meher Pestonji is a compelling novel that traces a woman's journey to seek her self , a journey that takes her through the many facets and dimensions of life and in the process the author unfolds before the readers the ghastly and gruesome realities of the religious fundamentalism that is threatening to tear apart the secular fabric of Indian society.
Parvez, the central protogonist, hails from an elite Parsee family. She marries a Goan Christian, much against the wishes of her family only to be confronted with the bitter truth that her husband is a frivolous man given to booze. She finds herself in a joint family the moors and milieu of which stand in stark contrast to her own. Stifled, Parvez calls it a day and moves out on her husband and his family and comes to Mumbai.She moves in with her brother who is a renowned architect and her sister in law a high class fashion designer. In her brothers house she is reminded of her own plush upbringing and the refined tastes her family is given to.
A chance meeting with people like Mr Chawla and Siddharth change the course of Parvez's life, who soon finds herself in the vortex of hard core politics--the Babri Masjid demolition and its aftermath. She by now has moved into her own apartment and has her own group of friends like Siddharth, who is given to idealism and soon involved in the activities of this group.She finds herslf at Dharavi and faces the gross reality of the danger lurking behind the fanaticism and hatred of riots. The horrors of life, the many faces of poverty, the cruelty and paradoxes of life and relationships all open up before Parvez.
Though she is taunted time and again for being fortunate to belong to the moneyed class, she proves her mettle in times of crisis and soon emerges out of the cocoon to discover her real fearless self. The novel beings to the forefront the Parsee way of life and is also a critique of the snobbery of the upper classes and the socio-political-religious undercurrents that are shaking the foundation of human relations and society in general.
Parvezs journey in quest of selfhood completes with her degree in Psychology whereafter she becomes a professor in a college and refuses to go back to her husband despite his urging her to do so. She has a fling with one of her activist colleague, but she chooses to be on her own continuing with her social work, trying to restore sanity and harmony in times of turmoil.
The end of the novel brings us to the Godhra massacre and the post Godhra violence raisng the question of what and how will this mayhem end? Till when will we continue to be on each others neck in the name of mandir and masjid?
But the journey of life goes on and Parvez at the end is a woman who has seen the many flavours and colours of life and is treading along courageously.