Saturday, July 8, 2017

Once, during a rainy day...

Once, during a rainy day like today, you held my hand for the first time. Yes, other than this, I can't find an appropriate introductory line. And how can I? After all, our story isn't a fairy tale with a happily-ever-after ending. That particular rainy day and your holding my hand- all these things were not romantic too, if you consider romance to resemble the peppy Bollywood numbers. Yet, it was something like 'a special moment' to both of us. It was the first time in my life that a guy held my hand. That that moment meant special to you too, I came to learn later from you.

It was the first day of the month of Shravan, according to the Bengali calendar. It was the day after our social marriage. I was tired from all the marriage rituals of the previous day. Tired and irritated. Yes, that feeling of irritation started from the beginning. There was heated exchange of words in the morning between my mother and your sister over the phone. But blame it to my naivety, I hopelessly fell in love with you during those initial days of our marriage. That younger, fledgling self of mine failed to realise that this union was not fated to last for a lifetime, leave alone your promise to be my husband for seven consecutive lifetimes.

"Dulhe ka sehra suhana lagta hai,
Dulhan ka to dil deewana lagta hai..."
The song was playing in the car during my journey to my matrimonial home. There was a light drizzle in all the way during my journey. You,  sensing my foul mood, instructed the driver to stop the music, and he obeyed instantly. Then you held my hand, as if to reassure me that everything will be all right. I was looking outside the window of the car. It seemed to me at that time that the God was blessing us. Those drops of rain, falling gently on earth, seemed to be some sort of heavenly blessing.

We have parted our ways legally now. You are not my husband any more. But even today, rain brings back memories of another world, in another lifetime, when we were husband and wife. Yes, our story didn't turn out to be a novel. So what? We have a story after all, albeit a short one. Yes, rainy days bring back memories of you and your love even now. Even now.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend

an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Review: এটুকু বৃষ্টি...

এটুকু বৃষ্টি... এটুকু বৃষ্টি... by Smaranjit Chakraborty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The intertwined lives of some teen-agers form this novel, with teen-age love being the central theme, as is typical in the novels of Smaranjit Chakraborty. A light read, you can finish the book in 2-3 sittings, but immensely enjoyable.

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Review: প্রেমের উনিশ-কুড়ি

প্রেমের উনিশ-কুড়ি প্রেমের উনিশ-কুড়ি by Smaranjit Chakraborty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is a collection of love stories, meant for the teen-agers mainly. Though I have left behind my teens long ago, still I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The stories are suffused with innocence of teen-age and the first encounter with LOVE, which leaves a lasting impact on our minds for the rest of our lives. These stories are like the first shower of monsoon-- fresh and make you craving for more.

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Review: The Housekeeper and the Professor

The Housekeeper and the Professor The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yōko Ogawa
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Have you read a book where the protagonist is not a human? Then try this book, where Mathematics appears to be the protagonist, with all it's mysteties, the unique prime numbers and mathematical formulas. This is the first-of-its-kind book read by me. The characters are few in number, a Mathematics professor who has lost his memory, the housekeeper who looks after him, the housekeepers son and the professor's sister-in-law, who is mentioned very few times. With these few characters, Yoko Ogawa has spun a beautiful tale, whose central theme despite being Mathematics, is very humane. This is my first novel by a Japanese author, and after finishing it, I want to read more writings by Japanese authors. If you hate Mathematics, this book will surely change your perception. If you are already in love with Mathematics, this book will only intensify your love.

The character of the Professor is an intriguing one. I have never read about such a character before. He lost his memory in an accident and can't remember anything new. His memory stops in 1975, but he has a short-term memory of precisely 80 minutes. His appearance is equally weird. "..... the most curious thing about the Professor's appearance was the fact that his suit was covered with innumerable scraps of notepaper, each one attached to him by a tiny binder clip. Every conceivable surface-- the collar, cuffs, pockets, hems, belt loops, and buttonholes-- was covered with notes, and the binder clips gathered the fabric of his clothing in awkward bunches. The notes were simply scraps of torn paper, some yellowing or crumbling. In order to read them, you had to get close and squint, but it soon became clear that he was compensating for his lack of memory by writing down the things he absolutely had to remember and pinning them where he couldn't lose them-- on his body."

The housekeeper is the single mother of a boy. We do not get to know the names of either the housekeeper or her son throughout the story. But the boy is named as Root by the Professor, because of the flat shape of his head which resembles the flat top of the square root sign and mentioned so in the whole story.

Overall, it has a very unusual storyline, which will stay with me for sometime even after finishing the book.

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Review: The Winds of Hastinapur

The Winds of Hastinapur The Winds of Hastinapur by Sharath Komarraju
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is a re-telling of the great epic Mahabharata from the perspective of it's female characters. This first book narrates the story of Ganga and Satyavati, relatively minor characters of the epic. We have all grown up listening to the great epic and even watched it in television. But almost every version of the epic is from male viewpoint. It's really fascinating to read it from the viewpoint of it's female protagonists. A few years back, I read the novel "The Palace of Illusions" by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, which I must say is surely a masterpiece, being a retelling of the epic from Draupadi's perspective. This novel fascinates me in the same way. The fact that this novel is the work of a male author, fascinates me even more. The author has beautifully captured every emotion, every feeling that the women characters went through.

The description of Arundhati after she cursed Prabhasa will make you re-think about the virtues of sages. "A curse came out of that part of you that was black, and it nurturef all that was bad inside you and brought it to the fore, made it bigger and made you feel small and weak. She had heard Sage Vasishta say oncr that that man is truly good who has the ability to curse but still cannot, for that means there is no blackness in his heart."

The motherly feelings of Ganga when she dropped her new-born babies in river is something every woman will feel in her situation. It's not the feeling of a Celestial, but that of an ordinary mother.

Satyavati's tale is equally incandescent with human emotions. In the last few chapters, the stories of three Kasi princesses, Amba, Ambika and Ambalika, throws a new light in the epic.

Some quotes from the book will stay with me for quite a long time after finishing the book. I'd like to share a few here:

"She had heard it said once that nothing in the universe comes without a price; that in every instance you received something you wanted, you had to give up something you had, and in every instance you lost something, you gained something you did not have. The goddess was a trader herself; she gave not without receiving, and she took not without giving."

"The only true secret to happiness is to accept that we have no control over our fate."

"All our wishes and hopes have to go into the paths that we must yet travel, wherever they may lead."

Overall, it's the kind of book that you will want to read and re-read. A five star rating for the excellent style of story-telling and almost lyrical prose.

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