Memories Of Rain – Sunetra Gupta
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Sunetra Gupta’s 1992 debut Memories of Rain is a brilliant first novel. Even after two decades of its release, the story retains its charm and luminosity. Words flow like rain water, on flooded streets of Calcutta, carrying a million emotions in them, drenching all those who happen to pass by. Each sentence weaves magic with the sheer beauty of its form, words of a poet.
Sitting in a distant land, London, her home, Moni’s thoughts keep going back to her home in Calcutta, where 10 years back, on a rainy evening, she had first met Anthony, who is now her husband. She is torn between choices, of staying back with her husband whose passion has now drifted towards the green-eyed beauty, Anna, the woman of his dreams, who is more intellectually attuned to him, or taking their 6 year old daughter and returning to Calcutta, to a life of isolation and solitude.
The story meditates on the multi-cultural realm of the East and the West, through the marriage of a beautiful Bengali girl with an Englishman. Overcome by an intense passion, Moni and Anthony fall deeply in love and decide to get married, much to the disappointment of her family. But years later, as the passion begins to fade, Moni realises that her world in London is very different from the movies she had seen and believed in. Years later, her imagination becomes her refuge.
‘ She is like a small, soft bird in his arms, he does not dare to attempt to make love to her, he prays that through her songs she will come to appreciate the beauty of their situation, the only thing that can save them now, the intense beauty of their interwoven emotion, the poetry of the half triangle they form, he, Anna and she…..’.
After 10 years of marriage, Moni has surrounded herself in dense meshes of her fantasies, the pleading eyes of an unknown poet. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I haven’t read anything like it before. The author’s words melt in those of Tagore’s verse, forming a vast ocean of memories. There’s beauty in imagination, there’s sorrow in lust, an unspoken desire in silence, where past brings peace and future, wildings.
It is a beautiful novel to be read, felt, cried over and cherished. If you do not wish to flow in the intensity of the author’s words, in the power of Moni’s imagination and emotion, don’t read it, or you would be doing injustice to this excellent experiment in literature. The poetic prose, the sensitivity of the writing, the silence of the characters, is disturbing as you read, but then that’s the beauty of it all.