The Sari Shop Widow by Shobhan Bantwal
Pungent curry, sweet fried onions, incense, colorful beads, and lush fabrics – THE SARI SHOP WIDOW is a novel set on the streets of Edison, New Jersey’s Little India, where a young businesswoman rediscovers the magic of love and family.
When Anjali Kapadia’s posh sari boutique in New Jersey is on the verge of financial ruin, her wealthy uncle from India comes to her rescue.
But the wily, dictatorial uncle arrives with some unpleasant surprises—a young Indo-British partner named Rishi Shah for one — and a startling secret that disturbs Anjali.
Falling in love with the mysterious Shah only adds to Anjali’s burgeoning list of complications. Torn between her loyalty to her family and her business on the one hand and her growing attraction for a man who could never fit into her life on the other, Anjali turns to her family and cultural roots to make a life-altering decision.
About the Author
Shobhan Bantwal calls her writing “Bollywood in a Book,” romantic, colorful, action-packed tales, rich with elements of her own Indian culture — stories that entertain and educate. She is an award-winning women’s fiction author of three published novels and contributed to an anthology of short stories.
Shobhan writes for a variety of publications including The Writer magazine, India Abroad, Little India, U.S. 1, Desi Journal, India Currents, Overseas Indian, and New Woman India. Her short stories have won honors/awards in contests sponsored by Writer’s Digest, New York Stories and New Woman magazines.
You can visit her website at ShobhanBantwal.com
Read an Excerpt
Her mind in overdrive, she started to pace the length of the tasteful and elegant boutique. Her boutique—her baby—her artistic and inventive skills put to optimum use in creating a fairytale store worthy of movie stars, models, and beauty queens.
Technically the business belonged to her and her parents as equal partners, but it was Anjali’s creativity and vision that had turned it into a classy and successful enterprise—at least until recently. It stood apart like a maharani, a queen amongst the ordinary, plain-vanilla sari and clothing shops of New Jersey’s “Little India.”
The area known as Little India, located in Edison, was crammed with sari shops, jewelry stores, restaurants, grocery markets and souvenir shops. It was a small slice of India buried in central New Jersey, a quaint neighborhood that smelled of pungent curry, fried onions, ripe mangoes, incense, and masala chai. Strong tea laced with spices and oodles of thick, creamy milk.
Even the store’s name was Anjali’s brainstorm. Overrun with ho-hum and even dumpy names and ugly storefronts, Little India was badly in need of some class. So she’d called her store Silk & Sapphires. It had a nice ring to it, and according to Hindu astrology, a sapphire supposedly dispelled the destructive influence of the fiery planet Shanee. Saturn. The store’s window displayed the most elegant mannequins and rare jewelry to give it a boutique flavor rather than just a sari-cum-bauble shop.
The interior was done in soft cream and shimmering blue to fit the name. Tear-drop crystal chandeliers hung from a vaulted ceiling. Strategically placed recessed lights highlighted the displays, mirrored walls created the illusion of space and light, and dense cream carpeting covered the sales floor and fitting rooms.
Shopping at Silk & Sapphires was meant to be a unique and indulgent experience.
The boutique also carried jewelry—one-of-a-kind creations of precious and semi precious gems fit for an empress or a blushing bride.
Nearly every piece of clothing the store sold was designed by Anjali, each outfit envisioned, then meticulously planned, cut, sewn, and embellished to her demanding specifications. She took pride in finding the right fabrics, trimmings, and tailors to make her designs evolve from an idea swirling in her brain to divine ensembles. Granted, her clothes and accessories were far more expensive than some, but they were worth the money. Every design was exclusive. Many of them were award winners in fashion shows and competitions.
She glanced at them and exhaled a long sigh. The colorful silks, the clingy chiffons, and the gossamer tissue-crepes were draped in an exquisite array on their pretty satin hangers—row upon row of lush, costly clothes. The pearls, the rainbow of beads, and the jewel-tone sequins lovingly sewn into the borders, sleeves, necklines, and bodices of the sleek garments sparkled and winked at her as she strode up and down the aisles, again and again.
What had gone wrong? How? When?
Could she be kissing her dress design business and her beloved store goodbye? If so, how soon? Catching her reflection in the mirrored wall behind the row of clothes, she realized her eyes were filled with resentment and frustration. Darn it! She rarely let bitterness prevail over her, and she wouldn’t do so now. She was a woman who liked to laugh, although there hadn’t been much to laugh about in the last decade—not since she’d cremated Vikram.
How could her parents have concealed such a significant problem from her for so long? And how could they even dream up something so preposterous to address the problem? How could they jeopardize her career as well as theirs with one phone call?
She wouldn’t stand for it! She couldn’t.