Monday, October 15, 2012

Another man's wife by Manjul Bajaj

“ It was an old, old tribal custom and only hearsay now. If a girl spat on a boy’s face it meant she had marked him out as hers.” p 199, Another man’s wife.

We however are not talking about that, but let’s face it, if you ever henceforth pick a book by the author Manjul Bajaj, be sure you are going to tread on grounds, that make for some absolutely wonderful stories, from the very heart of rural and urban India, which not only tell a story well. In this sense, Manjul Bajaj is marked..

In her second innings, Another man’s wife, a collection of 9 stories, Bajaj, takes the reader through a series of issues deeply rooted in our Indian society, and makes a delightful combination with the hot and hungry inner climate of her protagonists. Call it the need to explore or actions following needs of other kind, all the stories, twist and turn, and surprise the reader with a plot that is well thought out and crafted with the reader in mind.

What is the price of displacement? Why must we leave our home and hearth in the villages, to earn our living in cities, what is the cost of this displacement? What are the boundaries of love or sexual communion, what are the consequences of actions, does love last or must it be fueled by fantasy to live on, or does raw intimacy revive distanced relationships, is there a right thing to do, or all actions have their own cycle to complete, is there a continuation of life which once blown out, returns again giving even a murderer a chance for redemption? The author grapples with you by her side, with all this, through a journey of words, stories that make you sit up and think and discuss, long after you have pun the book, down.

There is no shame, no need to tame language and make it polite. The raw rugged rage of thoughts and words come straight from the belly, with no lace, no veil to cover. .

All the stories have strong protagonists, whether male or female, and all cut out a story, you least expected they would when you began to read it first. The twists and turns, the surprises and the large heartedness, all come together, so beautifully, that at the end, although as a reader one might have had a list of ifs and buts coming up, occasionally and punctuating the flow of thought, at the end, one feels that all is right in love and war. Besides, even in the worst case of being wronged, there is an inclusive end and characters are not left out there in the dark, to make sense of themselves.

The editorial work is fantastic and in the title story, the play of emotions, basic instinct, the war of bodies and of minds is a masterpiece to die for, the perfect dance of writer and editor - so exquisite the beat of the drums and the blow of the conches, one might have been a spectator of the very kurukshetra itself, only it is happening in the bedroom and your fire too is rising blow by blow, as this animal display of an instinct called sex moves, caresses, urges, pleads, attacks your senses too, with words that are noisy and restless to penetrate your body and your mind. Well done, Manjul Bajaj.

In this book, there are no lose ends and no question marks left. Bajaj has tied up the stories beautifully and in all of them, she has found her solution, bold, benevolent, without borders or boundaries. So if in her first book, Come before evening falls, she did sit on the fence at times, in this one, she has resolved her differences and cast pearls of wisdom strewn all across the book, like little nuggets, you’d love to keep forever.

I, however, will keep the best pearl of wisdom held close to my heart, a story I would like to re-read again, that one story, I truly call the ‘Meet the author, story,” – Marrying Nusrat.

: Manjul Bajaj
Edited by Nandita Aggarwal
Publisher: Hachette Book Publishing India Pvt Ltd
4th/5th Floors, Corporate Centre
Plot no 94, Sector 44, Gurgaon, India
Price: Rs 350
Buy: In bookshops across India,  &  Flipkart

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