It seems I’m pregnant since ages; carrying baby in my womb from times unknown. Reading and writing has been stalled since third month of my pregnancy. Forget about reading even picking a book seems such a tiresome activity to me. But, now from past few days, I am inclined towards my book shelf once again. Want to read some engrossing ones.
For a start I picked ‘An Atlas of Impossible Longing’ by Anuradha Roy. I read it, though it took almost 3 days to complete this novel but worth it. I bought a year back when I was still an unmarried careless girl who loved picking & buying books of all kinds on every outing.
Haa! Loved it! It’s an absorbing saga of a family, characters, land, and above all river where attachment and detachment both followed a painful music.
Retrospective look of the protagonist Mukunda leads us to a poignant tale of love, separation, breach of trust, and love of land. Beautifully woven is the archeological concept of digging earth and finding out the remains of past that’s deadened long time back. Similar is the life of characters of the novel, they keep shuttling in& out of each other’s memory strands, pulling and dragging their destinies together.
It’s the story of:
Mukunda is casteless, orphan, with no religion and so, is Bakul, motherless, nearly orphan, and the heiress of an ancestral mansion which is reclaimed by the river that flooded it almost.
Mrs. Barnum, an Anglo Indian widow of a British man, living with a blame of her husband’s murder on her head. Her eccentricities, lemon sherbet, cakes, and sandwiches form the secluded but momentarily pleasant world of her, Bakul, and Mukunda.
Kananbala- grandmother to Bakul, matriarch of 3 Dulganj Road, becomes a nasty swearing old woman who doesn't even realize the impact of words she is hurling at other people. Her friendship with Mrs. Barnum is one another oath of secrecy similar to that of Mukunda & Bakul
Nirmal Babu- is the younger son of Amulya and Kananbala, father to Bakul, and takes over the responsibility of rearing up orphan boy Mukunda after his father’s death who kept the boy in an orphanage on his expense. Self-centered, absorbed in the meticulous details of ancient edifices and architecture, the stories behinds them- this is how he has been with his daughter as well. Left wreathed in pain of separation after his wife’s death he abandons the home, daughter who was his responsibility, and the society. Life and home reclaims his presence back.
Eccentricity, abandonment, self-destruction, intensified silence, emotional drama with a feeling of detachment is all pervasive in the intricately woven narrative of this poignant novel.
I don’t know whether I did justice with the novel in reviewing it thus or not. But, I loved it. Read it & own it!