Author: Sinjini Sengupta
Where does our mind go, when we fall asleep? Can dreams weave a layer of parallel existence? Can there be another reality beyond all that we touch, see or feel?
It is a normal day for Manisha. She wakes up from sleep and goes to work. On her way back home, she walks into a coffee shop. The cafe is empty but for an old man behind the counter and another man at a corner table. Later in the night, this man comes back to her in her sleep and then, every night thereafter. A new journey begins and a transcendence. A story weaves itself around a life unfulfilled and a destiny, beautiful and fated.
But… where does this journey lead her to? Will Manisha be able to find her way through these parallel worlds?
Review by Katarzyna Szczerbowska-Prusevicius
Manisha is one of many women, who’s life has been perfectly and unquestionably planned within a patriarchal society: the main goal set for her – by others – is to get married. She finds what is called a good match: her husband is a successful entrepreneur of a large company, able to support a family and convinced he does everything possible to please his wife. Everything possible he can think of.
Unfortunately what he can think of is not what Manisha really needs. She lives in the shadow of his self-contentment with deep wounds from her childhood and later experiences. She was growing up being fed with myths and rules of Indian culture and learning to suppress her dreams. She tries to fulfill the societal expectations, yet there is a part of her that is yearning for freedom, her true self demanding to crash the destiny forged for her by her grandmother, father and husband. A bird in a gilded cage, she escapes the reality in her own “myths of colors and reflections”. By the tenth anniversary of her marriage she refuses to play the role of a good wife any longer.
Sinjini Sengupta tells this common female story in an unusual way. Her text is full of signs and clues which the reader has to follow in order to reconstruct Manisha’s story. The narration includes thoughts, sensual perceptions, dramatic scenes, real and inner dialogues.
Voices of the narrator, Manisha and Amit alternate or even seem to overlap. The reader believes her-/himself to be immersed in Manisha’s stream of consciousness and is often surprised finding her-/himself suddenly in the reality of the fictional world or amidst Amit’s notions. These narratorial switches allow the reader to experience the uneasiness the female protagonist is going through. The language Sinjini Sengupta uses in her novel fascinates with diverse modes of expression. There are cold and unaffectionate reports of external events which may stand for the uncompassionate world Manisha lives in.
Sometimes sentences break into pieces, even into single words, they seem to fall apart like Manisha’s identity. The novel contains also episodes with touching lyric character, subtle pictures and phrases of melodic sweetness which seem to refer to vulnerability and the reach inner world of the protagonist. One of the powerful symbols in the novel is the rain which accompanies the most important experiences in Manisha’s life, water which makes life possible and yet threatens with drowning. Between rain drops and thunderbolts Manisha tries to find her way to independence and struggles for the right to articulate her needs. What she was forced to abandon in the real world, she experiences in her dreams. Boundaries between reality and imagination dissolve. Following Manisha – floating with her – on this path, is an aesthetic and emotional adventure.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sinjini is an erstwhile Actuary turned into an award winning author, columnist and Public Speaker. She has won several national and international awards for both fiction (poetry, screenplay, story) and social columns.