Shriya Garg; author, reviewer, and web-designer; currently managing ‘The-Vault’, one of the biggest book reviewing websites; expresses why she couldn’t relate to Tuhin’s protagonist inspite of the book being really good and Tuhin being one of the better Indian authors.
This is perhaps the bestselling novelist’s most anticipated release. We have seen him steadily trying his hand at radically different – and difficult – plots, from That Thing Called Love to The Captain and later, Of Love and Politics. Naturally, I too was undeniably eager for this one, and the blurb proved fodder to my imagination.
Shruti Ranjan is a gutsy journalist in Delhi who has been dumped by her boyfriend of five years. Shaken and in need of security, she flees Delhi to return to her parents’ home. Her parents, like most other parents, try to warm her up towards the idea of arranged marriages. Almost despite herself, she agrees and finds herself the wife of Rohit, an IAS officer from Patna. They like each other but still don’t know enough to develop trust, or fall in love. Circumstances improve a little then. She becomes pregnant and a tentative bond begins developing between the husband and wife. However, on one fateful night, she is raped brutally in Kishanganj by a politically-sheltered local goon and loses her baby. The media casts aspersions on her character, plays it into a scandal, and the goon who performed the deed remains untouched. Even her husband begins doubting her integrity. Just when it looks like her life has come to another impasse, a leading member of the Opposition party offers her an unlikely solution: the ticket to contest the Lok Sabha elections and get justice meted out.
Shruti agrees, but only to see to it that her rapist is put behind the bars and justice is delivered. However, fate has other plans and when it looks like her initial purpose is complete, she is offered the post of the chairperson of the National Commission of Women. Under the tutelage of her charismatic mentor, Sharad Malviya, she is almost immediately elevated to the post of Deputy Home Minister. Rohit, who is having trouble bridging the geographical gap between Kishanganj and Delhi, wants her to resign and come back home. She chooses being MP over being a wife, and finds herself increasingly attracted to the brilliant Home Minister, Sharad Malviya – an attraction which is certainly reciprocated.
Tuhin Sinha is certainly one of the better writers we have. His writing style is easy and to the point. The author also knows his politics, and often makes liberal use of mythology and history to drive home his point, an aspect I found very interesting. It is also commendable that he explored some different topics with The Edge of Desire through a woman’s point of view and succeeded, to a certain extent.
My main problem was Shruti Ranjan. I couldn’t warm up to her, I just could not. Not only her rapid ascent in politics left me aghast, I also couldn’t understand what Sharad – or for that matter other readers who loved her – saw in her. Most of her displays of “guts” were off-stage, and we never got to see exactly what was in her that made her deserving of everything she got. She is not a public speaker, her mind is indecisive and cluttered, and I failed to see one iota of leadership in her. Everything that she got was because Sharad had a soft spot for her.
The author perhaps noted this and has shown Shruti to ask herself the very same question: do I deserve it? The answer is no, but does she do anything about it? No, she continues just as she was and eventually starts coming across as an excessively passive woman who was incapable of taking charge of her life.
“The man who basically made me an MP insulted me? Fine, I won’t go to office for the next three days. Because that is the sort of faithful government employee I am.”
“My husband is upset because he thinks I am having an affair with my boss? Such an idiot. After all, I have only stayed away from him for ninety percent of the duration of our marriage and spend just the entire day and evening with my boss…every day. He doesn’t trust me, so I wouldn’t bother with him or his family either.”
Am I nitpicking? Yes, because believe me, the book isn’t that bad. My friend read it and the thoughts I just mentioned never entered her head. She thought that the author had portrayed her wonderfully, and has shown all the sides of a woman. I am sorry but I couldn’t swallow it. The scene of the rape, which moved many readers, also failed to evoke much of a response. I regularly read Women’s Fiction and have scene much better narration. It was so much more telling than showing and read like a news report.
Overall, I would accept that the book’s good and will certainly please the Indian public but nit-pickers like me will be disappointed. Perhaps my hope with the author were too high…I guess we’ll never know.
P.S. The trailer is excellent!