By Rimi B Chatterjee
This has been a novel that has been sometime in the making. A decade, to be precise, and in the interim, it has got itself a title different from what it was born with.
The story is deceptively simple at the outset. Satyasandha Sarkar, a 30 year old desk editor with a newspaper, is informed by his mother that his maternal aunt, Medhashri Sen, has been found dead. Medhashri is his mother’s elder sister, and the maverick of the family. The death is a suicide, which could be a blot on the family’s reputation and needs to be hushed up. Medha is the eccentric who was never really understood by her family. As the author says, Medha's "Life is in conflict with her art which leads her to implode." Her husband left her, taking one of their daughters with him to the US while leaving the second daughter, the one afflcted by cerebral palsy behind with Medha. Medha was an artist and she leaves a series of clues to her internal mind, through a letter addressed to Satya. Through the clues left behind for Satya to piece together, he sets out on a cross country trip which leads him to five different places, where he unearths the artistic genius his aunt was, and the secrets behind her eccentric life and her self inflicted death. Through his search, he comes a little closer to understanding himself and the questions that he has been grappling with.
This novel takes an incisive look at what constitutes the social stereotype, and how people who defy being stereotyped get branded as being different, eccentric and therefore, people who are viewed as threats to society.
Published by Harper Collins