[Book Review] The Saga of Shom & Raima - Tapan Ghosh

Bombay boy Shom leads a double existence. Suman Bhatia in real life, marital pressures and work responsibilities have pushed him to seek another life as Shom. In this avatar he meets Raima Sengupta in a Facebook chat. When they meet, he discovers that she is much younger, but like him, craving intellectual stimulation and freedom from restrictive social norms.Raima is a victim of a difficult childhood. After losing her father at the age of three, she assumes charge of her ailing mother. Brought up by her maternal aunt, as a teenager she fends off a sexual assault from her lecherous uncle. Now in her 20s, she withstands family pressure to marry since she feels committed to Shom, a married man himself.Both agree that despite the compatibility between them, they must remain faceless to balance their relationship with social and professional responsibilities. This seems to be the only way out. 
Source: Goodreads 
 
 

Things that happen unintentionally are pure. It is up to us to read between the lines.

- Tapan Ghosh

 

Society is an unwritten agreement among its members that set up rules to reduce friction and ease the functioning of the population. Social conditions, traditions and often personal beliefs of the society are the basis for the formulation of these laws. But there are certain cases where these social laws become an obstacle to personal growth and contentment. It drowns the victim in the ocean of helplessness and makes his/her life a living hell. These are the times where the person has to make a choice. The choice to respect society and keep living the miserable life or to take a leap of faith into the abyss. 

 

Based on this dilemma is Mr Tapan Ghosh's new novella: The Saga of Shom and Raima. Mr Ghosh is an extraordinary writer, an incredible thinker and his ability to play with the words is well explained in this literary piece. The unconventional plotline is what most readers would call straight-forward adultery, a taboo for the society. A subject that is shunned and often ridiculed by the mainstream Indian literarians. But it is the narration, that makes the reader sympathize with the characters justifying what the social norms would call a taboo. While I enjoyed the plot and the narration there were some instances where I felt like the plot had included more elements that it should have, and there were other instances when felt to be a mess yet it was captivating.

 

The plot revolves around many characters and their own stories, but the most important among them being the relationship between Shom and Raima and the role of Harry in it. Shom is a middle-aged married man trying to preserve his "perfect-image" in the eyes of the world at the same time trying to maintain his unnamed relationship with Raima a much younger girl. While Raima had a troubled childhood. Her father died when she was young, and her mother got bedridden by the shock. She was sent to live with her aunt where her uncle tried to rape her.

 

Harry is an interesting character. He is like a mentor to Shom and a father figure to Raima. His years of experience have enabled him with an exceptional perception of life. He is the philosopher, guide and what you would call a love guru. He lends the advice and guidance to the duo whenever they require it.

The writing and language are flawless. It is a matured tale in the sense that readers without an open mind won't be able to appreciate the beauty of this literary work. As I've already mentioned, it is unconventional it is different.


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