“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”
Robert Frost’s observation in brevity is one that I have always admired. It just says it all, envelops every phase, every major obstacle and minor miracle that life throws in our path. What they have in common is that after them, life goes on. So it does for anyone, be it someone who’s happily married for two decades, or someone who is recently divorced. Though, having seen some friends go through it, moving on from the latter is not easy. Maybe that’s why Wrong, for the Right Reasons feels very real though it is fictional.
Shyamoli starts us off by talking about divorce, the experience (for a lack of a better word) and the repercussions that come along with it… the loss of income, friends and family, and their attitude etc. Then we go into the attitude of society, and yes, those play an integral part, don’t they? And of course, their attitude sways that of the family. I know this attitude shift may not be universal, thankfully, but it is mostly true. Shyamoli is affected by her husband’s careless, carefree attitude towards their marriage, his reasoning that his indiscretions should be ignored by her because he’s the provider, and she packs her bags, stops pushing that under the carpet like she had done, and heads for her home. Her dad supports her, but her mom doesn’t; because society doesn’t “respect” a woman who is a divorcee. When her other friends slink away, an old friendship finds a spark again. She finds someone who kind of understands her, in her old best friend, Uma. It’s Uma who moves in with her, and helps her find a talent she didn’t realize she had. But that doesn’t last either. But as with life, Shyamoli moves on too. The book deals with her life, as she stays single mom and raises her two kids – Samar and Ketaki.
I read about this book before in a friend’s review. She had said it was one of the most real books you’d come across this season. Having read the book now, I agree wholeheartedly. Characters… so true to life, in general. Reckless husband, who cheats on Shyamoli, and acts like it’s no big deal; Shyamoli, who in spite of having found out, tries to adjust till she no longer can; her mother, the one who looks at what society would see rather than what her daughter sees, who loves her son Varun more than her daughter Shyamoli; her father, who while being supportive, also doesn’t want to irk his wife; her son, Samar, mature as he is loving, going through moods every teenager goes; her daughter Ketaki, a little bundle of fun… every character has their quirks and their details on dot. Even growing up, the changes in the children are visible… the attitude, the change in dialogues… everything feels right.
There are no twists and turns in the story. I’m usually one who looks for them in a story, but this didn’t need one. I’m curious and think: where could there have been one, if there could have been one. The story, in all its realism, engages me as a reader and keeps me hooked. I finished it in about six hours, give or take an hour. There are positive aspects, like Shyamoli’s attitude to take the curveballs life throws at her and sometimes knock it out of the park; her trust in Gulpari, the Afghan lady who turns out to be a character who is fun, as well as wise. A small thing like Gulpari’s dislike of brinjal brings a smile in a terse plot. There’s drama throughout, though I do think the ending, with Kitty could have been done another way. The feisty Kitty (one of my favorite characters, the other being Gulpari), caving in like that felt odd to me. The end overall was okay, showing the unity of the family.
I love the book for its realism, the directness of the narration which still manages to engage me as a reader, and the character sketching which is done well. I hate it too, for the story, though not overwhelming with sadness, is poignant and reminds me of the battle my friends went through and survived. Having been through their side during their battle, those memories aren’t easy to relive I know. I don’t know if I’d be reading the story again anytime soon, but I wouldn’t call it a one-time read.
Title: Wrong, For the Right Reasons
Author: Ritu Lalit
ISBN/ASIN: 9789383701032 | B00NQC8THK
Publisher: Pothi Publishing (Paperback) | Amazon (e-Book)
Price: Rs. 425 (Paperback) | Rs. 185 (e-Book)
(20th November 2014)