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.