Set against the backdrop of modern-day India, Kismetwali and Other Stories places the reader amidst circumstances that transcend place, purse and prestige. This octet of novellas offers a rare glimpse into the parallel lives of the privileged and penniless, converging on those astonishing moments when free will intercepts fate and the rigid divide between social classes is rendered insignificant. Each narrative showcases walas and walis of the working class—the common yet essential purveyors of goods and providers of service—as empowered individuals who take centre stage.
The shavewala, a humble barber, becomes an intimate collaborator in a love story that spans the seven seas; the malishwali, a long-serving masseuse, conceals her mistress’s shocking secret while offering a gift of revelation to another; the kismetwali, a clairvoyant of unremarkable pedigree, solicits cosmic benefaction for her affluent clients. These socially eclipsed characters are the true protagonists in every story.
Recommended by Sylvester Monroe, Assistant Foreign Editor The Washington Post
Reetika Khanna Nijhawan was born and raised in a small town in northern India. While growing up, she travelled the world extensively with her father, an officer in the merchant navy. After receiving her degree in Psychology from Delhi University, she worked as a flight attendant with Lufthansa
German Airlines before settling down to write for ELLE and ELLE Décor in Mumbai. She later moved to Atlanta, where her work has been published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Khabar magazine. Kismetwali and Other Stories is her first work of fiction. She penned these eight novellas over time, while waiting in the carpool line outside her daughter’s school.