Kanchana Banerjee’s writing curve is something to remember- Imagine getting hand picked amongst many authorship hopefuls at a lit fest mart! Also, she chose to narrate her story over reading from the manuscript– getting ever so slightly choked while doing so, deserves a separate round of kudos! The heart of the matter, here is however, her book- A Forgotten Affair- Harper Collins.
She takes the overnight reader (finished reading it under the quilt) on crests and troughs of an average well-heeled Gurgaon couple, who have money but no time; marriage but no love; proximity but no intimacy! There! A mean (as in median) working upper-middle class, bordering-on-stereotype twosome, that peek out from beneath the surface sometimes. These are people who you and I may have clicked glasses with at a swish Delhi soiree!
Join Rika- Sagarika on her journey as she takes a plunge into another relationship, outside of her marriage, decides to walk out on it and also meet with an accident that plummets her into deep coma- all on the same day! Now, what are the chances? Plenty! That's why it's a matter of chance. Anyhow-what follows is an emotional roller coaster for her as Rishab her husband tries his best to create a new earlier non-existent loving world for her -as she has no memory of her miserable marital discord! Her passions of painting, her close familial and friendship bonds seem to crumble under the clever machinations of the jilted husband! Or so it seems- the rest of the story is woven around the hits and misses Rishab the husband has, in scoring over Akash the lover- who tries to reclaim her long lost (incognito for a year) love!
For the story and full details of what, where, when- I suggest you read the book- yes that'd be a start :) The writer does well to contrast the two men in the book- One, a well-heeled, emotionally scarred (issues with the mother) self made, head honcho; and the other a struggling 'artist'; the latter emotionally all there, and the husband happy to provide economically for the 'wife'. One gleefully talks endlessly of sweet nothings and the other having barely any time to compliment the wife!
At some point, the story grips you- not sure when but sure that it will be different for different readers. For me it was when Rika makes first contact with Akash on FB, post her accident. The writer manages to take control and command of the situation as she deftly weaves-in new characters and thickens the plot- literally too! The imagined cousin, the chance meeting with the missing link to the story, the best friend who acts as the confidant and is a sane voice against the husband's devious designs to reassert his right on the wife- all lend to a complex potpourri of emotions and high drama- much like the greek plays as a run-up to the the climax where all is sorted in the end!
The denouement here though lends itself to shades of grey - a Venn diagram where there are overlaps and an open ended, unexpected, but real conclusion- if it can be called that! In this lies the real triumph of the author- where she makes Sagarika's decision earthy for the reader and a plausible course of action to take! Without giving away too much of the book and its workings- suffice to say that there are the regular pitfalls that the writer of a romance and relationship novel would face- being soppy, predictable and tedious! However, she skirts these with a seasoned writer's touch- the language is unpretentious, the book reads like a natural river that joins the sea at the end, the plot is well etched and her handwork behind those simple twists and turns and the organic development of the story- is visible!
Read the book if you are a romantic at heart in the real sense of the word and not a Bollywoodesque version (Disclaimer- nothing against it- just find it stereotypical!) Also, read the book if you are hard pressed for time, however, I wouldn't call it a Metro Read. I finished reading the book long ago, but the scent of the affair remains still...
A Forgotten Affair
Harper Collins, India