Crossing the Mirage is about passing through youth that of Chandra, Nithya and Sathya.
Chandra the protagonist suffers from an inferiority complex occasioned by his perceived ugliness. The novel depicts many facets of the mirages of malady that Chandra chases amidst the sands of hope oblivious of the possibilities of the future and thus descends on a journey of disarray, in the track of life, paved by his past ethos. And that despairs him till his chance meeting with Nithya, a jilted girl with the strength of immense character. At one level, 'Crossing the Mirage' is the story of Chandra's self-discovery and Nithya's retribution of Vasu who tries to stalk her. And on another plane, Crossing the Mirage portrays the pitfalls of unrequited love through the life and times of Sathya that intertwines with that of Chandra, all captured in twenty-seven chapters;
1.Shackles on Psyche 2. End of the Tether 3. Burden of Freedom 4. Onto the Turf
5. Respite by Death 6. Lessons of Life 7. Naivety of Love 8. Dilemma of Disclosure
9. Perils of Youth 10. Absurd Proposal 11. Crossing the Mirage 12. Setting the Pace
13. Oasis of Bliss 14. Busy bees in Honeycomb 15. Twist in the Tale 16. Love in the Bind 17. Turn for the Worse 18. Shadows to the Fore 19. Spurring to Err 20. Tempting the Fate 21. Stooping to Conquer 22. Fouling the Soul 23. Poetic Justice 24. Agony of Penitence 25. Embrace of Love 26. Life of a Kind 27. Just Deserts.
Youth is the mirror that tends us to the reality of our looks. The reflections of our visages that insensibly get implanted in our subconscious lend shape to our psyche to define the course of our life.
This is the saga of Chandra’s chequered life that mirrors this phenomenon in myriad ways.
As perceived by the deprived, he had a fortunate birth. Yadagiri, his father, was the prominent pearl merchant in Hyderabad - Deccan, the seat of the Nizam’s power in undivided India. The patronage of the royals and the nobles alike, helped add gloss to his pearls making him the nawab of the trade. Besides, Princely Pearls, his outlet near the Charminar, was a draw with the rich, out to humor their wives and adorn the mistresses.
When Anasuya, Yadagir's wife, was expecting her second issue, trouble brewed in Telangana, the heart of the Nizam’s province. While his subjects' surge to free themselves from his yoke clashed with the Nizam’s urge to keep his gaddi, Sardar Patel's plans for a pan India was at odds with his designs to retain the Deccan belt as his princely pelf.
‘With a go by to the nobility,’ Yadagiri tried to envision his future, ‘it could be shutters down at the Princely Pearls.’
Thus, at the prospect of the momentous merger, even as the populace got excited, he was unnerved perceiving a slowdown in his trade. Confounding him further, as the impending merger was on the cards, Anasuya's delivery time neared ‘Should it be a girl again,’ he thought, ‘it would be only worse. Why, without a boy, what of the surname?’
Soon, as his wife was moved to the hospital, he was rattled by the prospect of her delivering another daughter. But, as it turned out, his fears proved to be liars on both counts.
Anasuya delivered Chandra, the very day the Nizam, courtesy Sardar, capitulated to the Delhi sarkar. And soon, the nouveau riche, from the business class, began to outshine the old nobility, pearl for pearl. Buoyed by the bottom line, Yadagiri dreamt of building a pearl empire for his son in the Republic of India. While Anasuya lavished upon Chandra the affection due to a son born after one gave up, Vasavi, his sister, running ten then, found in her brother a soul to dote upon. Thus, toasted by his parents and pampered by his sibling, Chandra had a dream childhood.
But, when he entered adolescence, the realities of life began to confound him to his discomfort. Coaxed by his father to excel at studies, he was perplexed for the lack of aptitude. What's worse, the antics of his classmates made him hapless -- they marginalized him at playtime, for his lack of reflexes, and, for want of grace, targeted him at fun-time. Well, to cap it all, the snide remarks of the have-nots, that he chose his father well, induced in him a vague sense of inadequacy.
As if all this was not enough for his tender psyche to cope up with, he had to contend with the sternness of the paternal strictness. Thus, it was only time before the seeds of alienation towards his father were sown in his impressionable mind. But the support he got from his sister and the solace he felt in his mother’s lap helped soothe his ruffled feelings a little. In time, he reached the threshold of youth, but couldn’t cross the despair of adolescence.
Oblivious of the possibilities of life, man goes through his journey of disarray, in the itinerary of the past, chasing the mirages of malady even amidst the sands of hope. And that despairs him forever.