BOOK REVIEW : Mom and I Love a Terrotist by Leema Dhar
Starting from the year 2004 – the year when Indian paperback industry was finally out of the ICU holding the strong hands of Mr. Bhagat, it has long 8 years. And, the number of shelves at the bookstores containing Indian writing has been exponentially increasing. The curve showing the growth in sales is ticking up steeply. But, the ‘literary’ minds have been complaining since long. They complain about presence and absence of two very things in every new-era Indian writers. The presence is of ‘redundancy’ and absence is of ‘maturity’. And, the generalization went such an extent that a new Indian author book drove a sigh “one more IIM ?.. huh!!”
And, when the severity of the issue was gaining ground – a chunk of young authors came as saviors. If I am not too wrong, Leema is the youngest among all.
The story revolves around a girl and her single mom on the picturesque island of Andamans. The story peeps through the eerie juncture of teenage and maturity. The moment-of-truth when the peppy-flashy world crushes down to the harsh-grey reality. The moment when a tender mind is bereft to depression by the gore realism. And, the realism is symbolically presented in the black stranger. The extremity of darkness in real world can be compared to the throttling shock a delicate mind undergoes when it witnesses a stranger sharing her mom’s bed. And, then turning the pages of her dear mother’s uncanny past. The book is a journey through the nook and corner of a teenage psyche.
The author very sensibly staged the plot on the back-drop of a real massacre. The issue of extremist movement has been dealt with care and sensibility. The struggle and the sacrifice for the proletariats are very loosely touched upon. Though, the main plot is miles away from this issue, the story through the eyes of her mother could have delved deep a bit more on this. It could have signified and justified her sacrifice and pride in a broader sense.
|Mom and I love a Terrorist by Leema Dhar|
The story has a sweet pace of its own. The characters evolve slowly through the plot in a definite manner. But the subplots seem to be blatant and dull compared to the main plot. The college friends of the protagonist are seen-them-before sort of. Which college movie missed a playboy hunk, a slutty expose-it-all girl or a possessive friend? – All of them have got it. And, the characters seem too loud and out of place for a matured plot like this.
The boat-maker for whom the protagonist fell for is introduced in a fantastic way. He was tall, dark, well-built with a mystic aura. But, on the course - he has been over-mystified. The character remained obscured for long. A letter to part-away is romantic in true sense. But, it was prevalent mostly in the black-and-white movies of the early 60s. And, this behavior from a matured guy – is like a stone to digest. Though the author has endorsed platonic love throughout , the creation of bond between the protagonist and her lover remains half-baked.
The epilogue touching all lives in the story briefing their where-abouts is really fine. Finally, it is a brave attempt from the pen of a young writer. And, the maturity shown in unfolding the mystery keeping the thrill intact and touching upon romance of relationship and nature is done with sheer mastery and deserve kudos.
Whatever, the show-stealer is the island of Andamans . The thrashing of cold-waves on the shore- the distant lights blinking in the sea – the cool breeze – is bound to fill your mind with utter tenderness and glee of teenage nostalgia.