Thank you to the author, Tania Malik, for offering this audiobook for our listening/reading pleasure.
The story in Three Bargains is definitely something in my wheelhouse of books I gravitate towards, and it did not disappoint in its wonderful storytelling for certain! However, this was provided as an audiobook, and I would have to give the audio narration only a 3-star rating, if I were to be honest. And, yes, while the narrator did an excellent job of giving distinction to the different characters and provide all with authentic accents, I really never could shake the impression he was reading it as he would to a group of children gathered around on the carpet for storytime. He read slowly and over-enunciated his words. However, once I overcame my frustration with his way of narrating, I settled quite snugly into this wonderful story – I even found that I was quite anxious to return to it. I needed to find out what was happening with Madan, and to continue with him on this journey and of the three bargains he makes.
And while I finished Three Bargains quite a few weeks ago, (I have been very lax about writing up my thoughts efficiently!) I find I am easily able to recall the story, the emotional investment I had and the impact of the full story well after finishing. A very good sign of the enjoyment factor and lasting impact of the book right?
The story is about Madan and his family – an impoverished family that follows their father to the town of Gorapur. Madan’s father works for Avtaar Singh – he is the most powerful and all controlling man in all of Gorapur. He knows everything that goes on at all times and everyone answers to Avtaar Singh. Madan’s father is one of Singh’s goons and collects monies from business operators in the town. When first introducing Avtaar Singh to his family, Singh takes particular notice of Madan. He takes him under his wing and provides an education for him, something that irritates his already irrational and highly abusive father.
(as an aside, I had just finished reading The Hero’s Walk by Anita Rau Badami and she wrote of a highly despicable mother/grandmother in her story. Here, in Three Bargains, Malik has given us a highly and oh so despicable father!)
When Madan’s father’s gambling debts threaten to destroy him and his reputation he decides on an unthinkable bargain for his daughter in order to pay that debt off. Madan is outraged, horrified and desperate to have his sister found and returned to them. Here, Madan strikes the first bargain with Avtaar Singh. (This made for some intense listening by the way! I had a hard time peeling myself away from the story!) As Madan continues to gain the respect of Avtaar Singh, and gains a greater influence in his world, he makes a serious misstep and falls in love with one of Singh’s family members. Banished from Gorapur and with his life threatened, indeed, intentionally left for dead, Madan must hide out and leave behind all that he knows and loves, including his family and reinvent himself. As the years go by and Madan continues to rise from the ashes and become a very powerful businessman himself, he can never quite forget Avtaar Singh and the powerful hold he has over his life. He cannot quite let go of this one essential piece of his life he left behind in Gorapur. As his success grows, Madan struggles with feelings of revenge against Avtaar Singh, but also with a potential reunion with him. In the end, the two come together in what turns into the third and final bargain and is also a very powerful and striking ending.
Three Bargains was an engrossing and thought provoking read! The three bargains Madan must make with Avtaar Singh make for highly emotional and at times edge-of-your-seat (listening) reading. This is one story I highly enjoyed and highly recommend. Thank you again to Tania Malik for drawing my attention to it. 4 very strong stars!