Confronted with the task of re-inventing her life, young widow Priya grieves by researching spiritualism for a new age magazine and spending time in the garden her late husband, Gabe, had tended. Human contact is limited to an elderly nursing home resident, Jeevan, who is from her father’s native land of Sri Lanka. Soon Priya is drawn further into Jeevan’s world, which includes a mysterious nephew, Suresh. Despite rigid religious views, Suresh takes advantage of Priya’s vulnerability. Soon an isolated Priya finds herself facing the prospect of either single motherhood or a loveless marriage. While her Canadian and Sri Lankan friends Meg and Shobi conduct a tug of war over Priya’s destiny, Suresh’s jealous and coercive tactics prevent her from exploring a third possibility, her kindly neighbour Ryan, the only person whose presence gives Priya a genuine sense of solace. In this sequel to the author’s earlier novel, Priya’s World, Priya’s life is mired in uncertainty, but as spring begins to stir, the garden Gabe planted begins to speak to her of new life and fresh possibilities.
“Dawning of a New Garden flows like a magical river through issues of bereavement and self-realization. It’s a beautifully written story with a lightness of touch that belies its richness and complexity. A terrific novel!”
—Paul Butler, author of The Good Doctor and the upcoming The Widow’s Fire
There is a brief moment when the piercing brightness of an early evening sun dissolves into a soft glow. It merges then into the horizon in a startling spectacle of colour. The day that started off new and fresh is now old and tired just like grey haired Jeevan sitting in the wheelchair. By contrast, Priya who was perched on the edge of the green park bench mere inches from the old man, looked as if she had enough energy to run a marathon. Yet every so often she would glance at him, keeping a watchful eye on any potential need he might have.
Jeevan stared towards the lake where a smattering of ducks beaked around for any hint of breadcrumbs that littered the gravel that fronted the water’s edge.
“Nella was such a wonderful wife,” Jeevan mused, the laugh lines on his bronzed face deepening in concentration as he recalled a fond memory. “My word, could she ever cook!”
“I can imagine,” Priya said, fondly recalling all the great meals she’d shared with Gabe during their eight-year marriage. “Does the hurt ever go away, I wonder?”
“Can’t say,” Jeevan shook his head. “But for me it is so much easier than for you. I am old now and in God’s good time, I will be with Nella, but you… you are far too young to be a widow. You are what, twenty-eight, twenty-nine now?”
Priya smiled sadly, “thirty-five. It’s been four months since Gabe died but it still feels like ten minutes ago.”
“And even though you’ve been coming to the home to see me for the past year,” he replied, “I feel as if we’ve known each other a very long time.”
“I think that’s how it works when two people click,” Priya suggested. “I’m glad that we can talk about our lives and share like this…” His words drifted into a brief silence and then he picked up the thread of his thought. “I say! What a thing! You find someone who loves and looks after you and then,” he snapped his fingers, “Gone just like that.”