This book is not about your everyday love – In Search of Lost Life by Suravi Sharma Kumar
In Search of Lost Life, authored by Dr Suravi Sharma Kumar, is a collection of 10 short stories that are mostly character-driven with psychological realism drawn from the character’s motives, fears, insecurities, sense of guilt, reaction to real-life dilemmas and their desire to love and to be loved. The author uses literary methods to focus on the psychological processes and the characters’ mental narratives instead of simply telling a story. The voice in each story is distinctive and gripping enough to keep you hooked until the end of the story. The arc and spin of the stories is interesting and enjoyable and could make good screenplays or a motion picture. The stories are set mostly in urban India and London and one is set in rural India.
The author has mastered the genre of writing short stories and what is most interesting is the roundness of the character of Anita. Seven of the stories of this book revolve around the protagonist Anita.
In the consecutive stories, we see her as a young child, a woman, a married woman and later as an older woman. The stories when put together side by side and back to back come forth as a long form of fiction stretching over decades starting from Anita’s teenage. We see her emotional struggle and her point of view in all the actions she has been responsible for. We see her through the eyes of others too. The intricacies of a mind caught in the whirlpools of life, the thought processes and the psychological interplays are portrayed really well.
All of the stories dwell on love and loss — loss of life, loss of morals, loss of dignity, and most importantly, loss of identity. The main focus of the stories is on relationships — old ones, new ones, relationships with lovers, family — and most of all with oneself. The colours of nature feature heavily in the short stories bringing in the mood of stories, and Suravi indeed spent much of her life in the beautiful north-eastern corner of the country — in the state of Assam.
We see a few experiments of the writer in the stories. Like in one of them, the protagonist remains unnamed and the reader wonders if it is Anita or someone else but as the story winds up, the character emerges clear to the reader. By the end of the book, the reader knows Anita almost inside out. The stories may not be remarkable in terms of plot but bring out the virtues and vices of the main character. It brings forth the intense hues of a psychological kaleidoscope of a seeming regular mundane life of a woman touching a chord of concern for the protagonist in us as it soaks us in a sense of familiarity. The author effortlessly manages to flit from the past to the present, while weaving real-life incidents into the narratives without a ripple.
The author has used the plot, descriptions, dialogues and powerful literary devices to form and shape the everyday lives into artistically appealing stories. Both the dramatic weaving of words in the narrative and the building of a believable backdrop for these narratives are done with commendable skill by the author.
Literary devices like foreshadowing and allusion are used at their best to make events unfurl and move smoothly from one to another. The part called “This is Anita” portrays a budding teenage mind with myriad anticipations of life and love. It showcases a readiness to experiment and explore life in unusual ways.
“Unbecoming of Mrs Leena” is a suave narration around a mysterious male protagonist in his middle age. His approach towards women in general and a beautiful young woman in particular are highlighted. The voice of this story is that of an ‘unreliable narrator’ whose intent and motives are dubious from the very start of the story. The arc of this story and the twists and turns bring forth the protagonist’s mind at work and the grey corners of a woman’s mind leading to a romantic entanglement that relays accounts of myriad extra-marital affairs in contemporary urban living. This unresolvable entanglement of the stories of the two protagonists and the consequence that follows makes for a rather suspenseful read.
The stories with protagonists other than Anita are around a teenage girl with an inquisitive mind about the world around her, about love and about myriad hues of romance, and a young man living in another part of the globe, yearning to see and feel his roots in a tiny Indian village. The plot of the story “The Roots Within (Redux): is unpredictable with good foreshadowing of the events and is a pleasure to read. It is set in the lap of nature in a rural corner of India, in the thickets of bamboos, in the lush green swells of tea gardens and over sprawling fields with knolls and hillocks on them. And the narration is simply delightful.
The voice, the diction and the metaphors used in the narration are unique to this writer and the style of storytelling reminds one of Zumpa Lahiri at some instances. The voice is steady, believable and weaves all the happenings at present and in the past in a lucid narrative that is a must read.
Writer: Rajesh Kumar
Source: The Source