Simran, his widow, is left grappling with the loss of her
husband too soon after the death of her baby daughter.
"Saraís death made me feel punchĖdrunk, both eyes
bleeding". She doesnít feel the need to "do"
anything to make herself useful. She regrets that she didnít
talk about a whole lot of things that she ought to have with her
husband. She realises that her marriage wasnít a perfect one,
"Making love? A matter of affectionate tolerance sometimes,
irritated tolerance once in a way when I was zapped, or he more
interested in watching TV. Once in a long while, the Real
Thing". However, she misses her husband so terribly that it
takes her six months to get over being a "zombie".
"A quick and easy death. Easy for whom?" she wonders.
Then there is Maya
who must spell out everything whether at work or in
relationships, explain everything and also get into the
nitty-gritty of things. "`85I donít like things which are
unclear, unfinished". Sheís a tough but confused woman
ó a woman who has her own confused view of Dev and Simranís
relationship, her favourite lines being, "ĎThe imperfect
is our paradise.í No perfect husbands, No perfect wives. No
perfect life. No perfect death. No perfect world. What to do?
All the important
people in the periphery of the coupleís lives keep appearing
and interacting with each other. Maya, Peter, Deblina, Ved, Vimi,
Rishad, even Devís mother with her "long suffering
smile", whom we meet through references to her by the
characters in the novel, are fully etched, real, interesting,
alive people. They talk the language of the modern Mumbaikar,
share urban concerns, and are affectionate and sometimes rough
and critical with one another. Their paths criss-cross with each
other. What is common to all of them is their concern about
Simran after Devís death. They all have their own views about
how Simran should deal with her grief and they all have their
own ways of showing concern. "Simiís friends (and she has
many) are determined she should not have time to think. We take
her out to lunch, tea, dinner, films, plays, parties. Simi comes
along. She knows we mean well."
A major part of
the novel is in the form of letters and e-mails that the
characters write to each other. Ordinary letters about their
lives, decisions, interactions, reactions to people and
situations. Simranís letters to her dead husband are
especially poignant as she struggles to deal with his loss and
the memories he has left behind and examines the many facets of
their lives and marriage. She writes, "I think I
short-changed you" or after reading a poem, "Thatís
why relationships go wrong donít they? Or can go wrong. Missed
signals, confusing signals`85" or, " Other peopleís
grief doesnít help in the end. Itís a long road, and one
walks it alone."
In spite of the
theme that she has chosen, Eunice de Souza never drags the
reader into a quagmire of grief. Itís a brave little book, in
fact. Even Simranís introspective letters to Dev are not an
exercise in self-pity but dwell on past experiences, present
situations, her interactions and relationships with friends etc.
The book comes smiling through. The smile may sometimes be a
little lopsided, sometimes explode into a loud guffaw and
sometimes turn a little wintry or a little teary, but always
remains in place.