The Story of My Heart

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“I have a story going in my head which I think will make a nice book.” I threw the remark casually over the breakfast table this morning. The soulmate looked up from behind the newspaper, his eyes screwed with confusion. I knew he was weighing what his next line of action should be. Which, for that instance, were:

1. Give me a green signal to carry on, which will be followed by a half an hour of lecture on my part with animated descriptions of characters and events, with occasional demands of suitable and encouraging comments from him, in the absence of which, he will be found guilty and convicted of the crime of being an “insensitive husband”.


2. Ignore me which will result into a big fight and he will be found guilty and convicted of the crime of being an “insensitive husband”.

Proving again that I was smart in my decision, for I chose him as my life partner, he opted for the former.

I took the thread and happily carried on. The next few minutes went something like this:

Me: “There were these two sisters… no... cousins.”
SM: “You and Tia?”
Me: “Aah! No... not us. Ok...ummm... so one of them were very pretty.”
SM: “Tia?”
I gave him an indignant look, and continued, “The other cousin was average looking, just a Plain Jane.”
SM: “That’s you?”
I was visibly irritated at that point, and definitely did not enjoy the frequent interjections. Unflustered, I concentrated on my story again. “So the cousins have an aunt, umm… a spinster, preferably a widow, who lives with them in the same house.”
The soulmate adjusted his seat, and asked innocently, “And who is this Aunt, your pishi or jethima? ”
I retorted, uncertainly, “None of them. The cousins live in a big and old mansion in a posh corner of a small city.”
He scrutinized my face for a moment, and quizzed, “What was the last book you read again?” and seeing my stony face he gladly retrieves back to the world of current affairs.

That was where the conversation ended.

I keep telling myself that how am I ever going to write a book if everything that I ever thought, dreamt, or wanted to do had already been written by an author before me? So, as he guessed rightly, this time, I was thinking of “Sisters of my Heart” by Chitra Bannerjee Divakaruni and developed a similar plot line for my story.

This book had been lying on my bookshelf for quite a time, after I picked it up in Bangalore airport on a journey home. I let it gather dust cause I knew it in my mind that this one story has already stolen my idea of what would have been my first book, the story of two sisters, until I could not resist any longer.

But glad I am that I read it at last. It sent me into a roller coaster of emotions, for all good and not so good reasons. This is a story of two cousins born on the same day into an upper caste all-female Bengali household in Kolkata. The story tells about their love for each other and the bond threatened by family secrecies and jealousy, their lives as they grow together… and apart… and only to be brought together again by destiny.

The story is told from each sister’s perspective, and each chapter moves back and forth between the two protagonists. Coming from a similar background (as u might have already guessed, since I was ready to write another book on the same), I could identify myself with both the protagonist, Anju and Sudha. (Yes, Anju is me, Sudha is Tia, hahha). This is my first CBD book, and I immediately fell in love with her writing. Her writing is like flowing poetry, and the language is very artistic. I wonder if any non-Bengali reader thought that the young girls, Anju and Sudha, speaks in a flowery way, cause that’s how Bengali girls spoke in late 80’s and early 90’s, until commercialism changed the attitude of young Bengali girl’s in modern India.

The characters are very real. The way Aunt Nalini wails at every small lapse and declares how it would not have been accepted in her own father’s well-maintained household wonders me. Did CBD ever meet my she-who-should-not be named- here aunt (wink! wink!) or how else did she draw her character so vividly?

I was less happy with Anju and Sudha, though. Anju being the more ambitious among two, never ventures into anything other than reading literature, and the vivacious one that she is, never fights enough when her college education is stopped. Sudha, should have been allowed to have little more vanity just for the reason that she is so pretty (aren’t all pretty girls snooty?) and not so mimic and docile. Or was it that the burdens of secret made her forget about her own prettiness? But at the end, it made a beautiful story of sisterly bond. The complexities of the characters, their intertwined past, the drama and secrecies kept me glued to the book, till the end of the book.

I am happy that I read this book. It saved me a lot of hard work to try to write a second (or third) class cheap quality book on sibling relationships. I was little furious though as the author left it to me to extrapolate how it would go at the end. But just saw that those two characters are reunited in Divakaruni’s another novel "The Vine of Desire". So, I will have to grab that book soon.

Now that I realized that writing book on sibling relationship is not such a novel idea, I kept stumbling on more books on similar plotlines. The current one I am reading is Brick Lane, by Monica Ali which though tells the story of an uneducated woman who relocates to London after marriage, but it also has an important supporting character in the role of a sister (who happens to be very beautiful. again), whom we never see in the story, but get to know her through her poorly written letters. Since Brick Lane does not only tell about two sisters but also deals with Immigrant’s issues, religious and political, racial and women's issues, and also I have not finished the book yet, I will talk about it later.


Bilal said...
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Mayank said...

A good book always stirs up unsaid emotions.....

Anonymous said...

Thanks for some quality points there. I am kind of new to online , so I printed this off to put in my file, any better way to go about keeping track of it then printing?

Moumita said...

Thanks for stopping by.

You really don't need to print the page, you can keep track by following a blog. This is easy, just click the "follow" button on the left side bar of my webpage, and then you can keep track via the reading list on your blogger dashboard.

I also keep a blogroll of my favorite blogs (See my fav tales).

Hope this helps.

penandpaper said...

When I read 'Confessions of a Shopaholic', I felt if I were to write a book, it had to be like this. But she did it so much better :-) So, the search for a good plot is still on. I hadn't liked Divakaruni's 'Palace of Illusions', so was wary of picking anything else from the author. But will give this one a shot soon.

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