I can never get enough of Shashi Deshpande’s tantalizing writing no matter how dark, how depressing her stories are , I always feel at home when I read them. Her characters are real the circumstances she creates in the story are realistic.
Yes, this book too is, dark, gloomy but very realistic!
“Only one, a son…the word keeps hammering in my mind. How could I, oh God, how could I? That was betrayal, treachery, how could I deny my Anu?” says Urmila
Urmila the main protagonist is grieving over her baby daughter Anu’s death. Though her mother, her friend constantly tries to take her out of this depression but she is not willing to come out of it, not yet. She wants to make sure this grieve of hers stays alive and wants it to become a part of her life, just so that at any given situation she would never forget her baby, her Anu.
Consequently, Urmila’s grieve draws her to be a part of her long dead mother-in-law - Mira’s melancholic poems only to discover a hidden secret of Mira’s forceful marriage and its norms that she followed unwillingly. Which is revealed so clearly in her poems…
"Don’t tread paths barred to you
Obey, never utter a ‘no’,
Submit and your life will be
a paradise, she said and blessed me.
No, growing painfully within
Like a monster child was born."
Urmila also entangles herself in yet another issue of Shakutai and her daughter Kalpana (a rape victim) she visits them regularly in the hospital. Tries to tell Shakutai to give a police complaint so that they can take further action but Shakutai refuses to do so, as she is scared of the society and the mindset of the people around her.
Caught between these two situations - Mira’s poems (which Urmila wants to publish badly yet she cannot) and Shakutai & Kalpana’s agony, Urmi finds herself confused and helpless. But does she find any answer for these questions or does she not? The below line says it all..
“And so we go on. ‘I don’t want any more, I’ve had enough, I’ve had enough,’ Shakutai cried out. But in the morning I found her getting on with her chores. You can never opt out; you can never lay it down, the burden of belonging to the human race. There’s only one way out of this Chakravyuha. Abhimanyu had to die; there was no other way he could have got out."