Travelogue amid a journey
Can life be ever defined in a definite manner? The book at hand tries to emphasise that life is a “dangle”. What then would be this dangle? The “peripheral outcomes blinded by the obvious violence”, writes debutant author Sutapa Basu.
Then, serenity can be a treacherous dangle.The synonyms for dangle are many: a few of them befitting the plot would be “hang down”, “trail” or “brandish”. It all depends on how one reads through the book.
The story of the chief protagonist, Ipsita Sen, is . It’s a deeply penetrating tale of a globe trotter and about her chaotic internal journey as the story travels from Chicago to Delhi to Manipur and even beyond.
The book can be easily analysed as yet another story of a girl who wants to be different at times, especially when it comes to her attempt to “rationalise with the agony that had tormented her ever since she could remember”.
This extract from the book is a penetrating one: “What happened, happened long ago...Why do you need to live on the edge of a cliff even today?... and what had really happened? A little girl was molested... NOT raped. Baba had saved me!”.
Basu has definitely left a mark with her work and is certainly not without good reason that noted writer Amish Tripathi says the story actually “brought tears” to his eyes.
The best of love stories do make readers cry. But this book is also more than a love story. It is more about realism called life as Ipsita’s life actually dangles between good and bad memories.
Most descriptions in the novel are so real, like holidays in Puri.
The author tries a unique but unconventional narration style, even as it remains without doubt that as a woman herself, Basu discovers the body and soul of her character very well.
The three characters – Amar, Akash and Steve – Ipsita meets at different locations, actually help her unfold one facet of life after another.
From a reviewer’s point of view, the writer does well to focus around picturesque Manipur and the inherent conflicts of an insurgency-hit state.
These portions form strong points of the book. Having spent a considerable time of childhood and life in northeast India, the reviewer cannot agree more and salutes the manner in which Basu has tried to portray the contemporary reality in Manipur about killings and betrayals.
The portrayal of gun-wielding insurgents and the beautiful Loktak lake make for a unique synthesis, again, a “dangle”.Some of us who lived in the northeast know that in states like Manipur, the blood and tears have not stopped flowing. Basu, with her mesmerising lines, pays tribute to those common people who “are stitching together the torn edges of their lives” after ignoring the “shadow of the gun”.
Such prose certainly takes the author above an average writer and makes the book a good page turner. Ultimately, what needs to be stressed is that as a woman herself, Basu has kept the book and the plots strictly in command of the protagonist, notwithstanding that at times she finds friends like Adi who maintain her sanity and the right “balance”.
Time always passes, that is the balm for all pain, Ipsita well realises.
But to many, the book might challenge their views about a woman and how she ought to fight the demons and chaos inside.
As for male chauvinists, “dangle” will definitely transform how one looks at a woman and her existence as an individual. Reading a good story too is a balm; it makes one realise the power of melancholy and its absence.