Word count: 70,000
Word count: 70,000
Amil was born in India under the wrong planets, under the worst stars, on a Tuesday, making him bad luck to everyone around him. Henley was born to Jessica Blythe, which is pretty much the same thing.
SAJIVA is written from the dual perspective of twenty-one year old Henley Blythe, rebellious daughter of the governor of Philadelphia, and twenty-four year old Amil Gupta, a native of India, who found a way out of the slums despite the misfortune of his birth.
When intoxicated Henley drives her Harley through the streets of downtown Philadelphia, wearing nothing but a men's button up shirt and a hot pink thong, it doesn’t go unnoticed. Henley’s father is in an election year and her mother will do whatever it takes to make sure he wins, including exiling Henley to India with the Peace Corps. Meanwhile, Amil, a successful medical student at a hospital in Hyderabad, India, worries about the consequences for cheating fate.
The two meet when Henley discovers a newborn baby girl, face down in a public toilet - a victim of gendercide. She races the infant to the nearest hospital where she meets Amil and they end up caring for the child together. Despite their fears they will endanger each other with their unlucky lives, they are irreversibly drawn to one another, a strong bond forming between them and the baby they have taken in – Sajiva.
Bad luck is never far from these two, however, and after they uncover a dark secret about Henley’s mother, Henley’s Visa is revoked and she must leave India to face jail time. Henley takes on a new identity, fleeing with Sajiva into dangerous rural India. Though adversity continues to rain on the couple, Henley realizes that sometimes misfortune can be turned around by the simple act of defying it and defiance is something she has always been good at.
First 250 words:
It’s the first day of Pen State’s Spring Break and I get myself arrested. A shiver quakes up my spine as the concrete floors of the detainment room leech cold into my feet. Wish I had my jacket. I fold my arms over my chest, noticing the strange periwinkle paisleys on my sleeves. Holding out my arms, I examine the fabric draping from them. What the Hell? This isn’t my shirt. This isn’t even a woman’s shirt.
I lift the material to my nose, feeling the starched fold of the collar scrape the back of my neck as it twists around me. It smells of men’s cologne, heavy, spicy, unidentifiable. I take a better look at the shirt. It comes to my bare knees. Bare knees? Oh my Guh…. Where. Are. My. Pants? I-I have no pants. Laughter gets caught in my throat. I fight it but it’s no use. It spills out of me the way half of a bottle of red wine did minutes ago. The room smells of it, the mop still propped in the corner.
This really isn’t a laughing matter. I’m not just some college kid having too much fun over Spring Break. I’m not just anyone. This will all have to be covered up. Lies will be told. Money will be exchanged so people forget this night ever happened. At the moment, however, these icy realities don’t seem to matter – the benefits of intoxication. Another laugh gurgles in my throat. I try to swallow it down but it’s no use.