Difficult Dynamics | Book Review: A Mirror Made of Rain by Naheed Phiroze Patel

by Jeremy

You might see yourself always in pieces, no use to anyone, and take that as truth,” she reflects at some point in the novel, which is an exploration into the family as an oppressive milieu that engenders discord and derangement, and home as a site of violence and inequality.

By Navaid Anjum

Noomi Wadia, the young protagonist of Naheed Phiroze Patel’s debut, A Mirror Made of Rain, shares a strange relationship with mirrors. “I loved how they brightened up a room, echoing light from one wall to the other, but usually I preferred avoiding my reflection, always afraid of what I might discover if I looked too closely.”

You might see yourself always in pieces, no use to anyone, and take that as truth,” she reflects at some point in the novel, which is an exploration into the family as an oppressive milieu that engenders discord and derangement, and home as a site of violence and inequality.

Noomi’s fear roots itself deeply in her toxic and dysfunctional relationship with her mother, Asha, whose descent into alcoholism scars her forever. “A mother is the first mirror in which we see ourselves. But what if the mirror you look into is broken? You might see yourself always in pieces, no use to anyone, and take that as truth,” she reflects at some point in the novel, which is an exploration into the family as an oppressive milieu that engenders discord and derangement, and home as a site of violence and inequality.

A Mirror Made of Rain, the story of a family undone by addiction and anxiety, begins in medias res, with the narrator Noomi taking us to the lavish party of Sheila Sehgal in Kamalpur, a small town where everyone knows everyone and where “disgrace lurks at every corner”. At the party, we meet the novel’s exciting cast of characters, schmoozing and sashaying along in their fineries. Sheila, fussy about her guest list yet mindful of the tribal hierarchies that govern her terms of social engagement, also invites Lily Mama, Noomi’s grandmother. The latter comes from an old aristocratic family. The Wadia household includes Noomi’s father Jeh and her overbearing grandfather Zal Papa. Noomi and Jeh must tell everyone Asha is ‘sick’ to explain her absence at the party.

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