My enjoyment in reading the fiction, “The Crossroads”, by an Indian writer Sudipta Mukherjee was primarily governed by her use of the English language in an effective manner, especially in her narration and descriptive power of characterization. This is her maiden novel covering three cities, two friends, one girl and it is a one story. But what is the plot about? The blurb helps:
“The Crossroads is a story of Aparajita Basu, a girl from a humble household of Kolkata, who tears away from her family to settle her roots in America, with her childhood friend, Aniruddha. To Aparajita, he is everything she ever wanted. Love dwindles slowly. Fate turns in a blink. Disheartened, she returns, not to her hometown but to a different city, where she finds herself a stranger, Haunted by her disturbed thoughts, obsessed by that one name, she finds no escape… until she discovers herself, standing on a new crossroads. An ordinary girl, who loses herself to love. A lover, who turns out to be a betrayer. A friendship born on a stormy night. Wisdom bred out of miseries. A home coming that completes one full cycle.”
But simple or a triangle of love story it may seem, the richness lies in its craftsmanship.
The book is divided into three sections: Kolkatta, Pullman and Chennai. It runs to 386 pages that include a Prologue and an Epilogue. Published by Frog Books in Mumbai in 2015 it is priced at US $13
The book is dedicated to Brahma, Vishnu and Siva in the Sanskrit Sloka as follows: “Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Devo Maheshwara, Guru Sakshat, Para Brahma, Tasmai Shri Guruvay Namah”
The felicity of language is admirable for a maiden work. More than the meat in the novel the sheer poetry in prose entertains me ravishingly. The English is marvelous by any standards.
On pages 86-87 there is beautiful erotic writing too written from a feminine point of view.
Her novel is not merely a fiction but a study to be relished slowly and analyzed. It has many layers and nuances that have be analyzed as if for a thesis.
Let me now show you only a few passages from Chapter 22 only among the many I loved to relish and a few observations on the vitality of the authors fascinating expressions:
01. Parallelograms of paddy fields with mud ridges, and soaked with ankle dip water offered me a rustic panorama. An opaque landscape stood before my gaze, in a breathless calm… Clusters of banana trees, short and broad, and palm trees, tall and tender, and huts caked with mud and capped with hay stood at a distance… Like a gush of wind pregnant with fragrance. (Prologue)
02. A crucial turning point- Page 200- Somewhere, I knew that even if I were at once ready to shift to the dorm, I would not have met my old Anir upon returning. The old Aniruddha, who had been my friend once, was lost somewhere, so much so that even if I had invested everything under the sun. I would not have got him back.
03. Page 202- It was hard for me to believe that the hands that once embraced me, cuddled me became so cold, so unknown, as if I never held them before. The looks that comforted me became indifferent as I had never known them before. The lips that kissed me, that motivated me now did not even move… Our love story, which was my pride, pleasure, and passion, suddenly got lost into oblivion
04. Page205- Raunak always brought with him a gentle breeze of freshness and impactful cologne. He wore a hooded grey jacket, atop his denim, his hair shining with gel, his lips, and cheeks crimson. His jaws were mildly greenish.
05. Page211-“See, Aparajita , I have high regards for you, I know how much you love Aniruddha, I am aware of it, Now, I think you should not give any more, to him, to you relationship, You are a nice girl, but things may not be as nice as you are, So please move out of this relationship” Raunak finally gave me his verdict.
06. Page 212- After a longtime, I enjoyed a friend’s touch on my body, skin to skin that went straight into my being. Something inside me stirred up, like a fine flick of flame caressed by a calm breeze.
07. Page 213- Anuruddha and Leena together; their bosoms tightly held, Lena’s hand garlanded Anuiruddha’s shoulder, and Anuruddha’s hand girdled Leena’s bare waist, above her low fit denim, both their eyes closed and lips erotically locked in sensual felicity, amidst thousand other laboratory equipment’s.
I wish that I show many illustrations from her writing which are much more elegantly written to exemplify her talents as a writer in English coming from the Indian subcontinent. But it is not essential as our readers with a fine tone of tuned sensibility would catch the feel of the fiction.
“Sudipta Mukherjee (Bhattacharya) was born in Jamshedpur, Jharkhand and raised in Kolkatta. A graduate from Calcutta University, she did her Masters from India’s Sericultural Research and Training Institute, affiliated to the University of Mysore, where she was awarded with gold medal for her academics. She had worked with multiple organizations before quitting her professional world to pursue her dream of being an author.”
She, her husband and daughter live in Canada.