The Edge of Desire By Tuhin A Sinha
Mahabharat has been an inspiration to writers through the ages. They have tried to see the reflections of the elements of a great story in the characters around them. And have written stories that resonate with the stories of the great epic. To me, no one can come close enough to Mahabharat when it comes to weaving stories that display the range of human emotions and dilemmas that its characters go through. Where they have to continuously choose between two or more equally good or bad choices. And they know it very well that whatever they choose they will be criticized for. They have to continuously figure out their Dharma and follow it. The Edge of Desire book’s central character Shruti is supposed to have resonance with Draupadi.
A character that is intriguing, unconventional, headstrong and very clear on what she wants. And had the ability to turn the wheels to make that happen. Of course, everyone has his or her own interpretation of the character. I found Shruti the central character of this book The Edge of Desire very weak, unlike Draupadi. Circumstances and people drove her all the time. There was hardly any clarity in her mind at any point in time. Though she has a very unconventional and eventful life.
In fact, she is driven most of the times by men and events in her life – from a boyfriend who dumps her for another woman, to parents who lead her to marry, husband – whose position leads to her rape. Which in turn leads her to her favorite politician who then takes over her life. And decides what she does after that. Nowhere is the lady having her free will or has her thoughts on what she wants from her life. She is led all the time.
There could have been two layers to the story. One the personal saga of the protagonist who has gone through a brutal rape in-spite of being in a powerful position of a deputy collector’s wife. And the destiny that followed her after that. Another could have been her rise in politics. I found the story written in a very linear way. Some portions about politics appeared an afterward insertion and stood apart from the flow of the story. A scene where all the three men in her life are in one place with her seems to be forced, inspired by the drama it can create a visual version. Some parts of the book refer to actual events that happened in the country and the others are fictional. I thought that was kind of disconnecting, either keep them all real or all fictional.
Author’s liking for Nehru has been repeatedly mentioned. The parties mentioned here are, clearly parallels of leading national parties and their alliances. It tries to depict how politicians will leverage anything that can lead them to the seat of power. Even if this means exploiting someone’s personal tragedy or making someone leave a spouse who stood by them in difficult times.
I really missed the layering of the story in The Edge of Desire. The story is good. But the narrative makes it weak. And the intensity that could have been the cornerstone of the book is lost. Language is ordinary. For the political parts of the story, I missed K P Singh who would write it so tightly and with such eloquence that the whole scene comes alive for you. Sinha, though a regular writer on politics, writes more like a reporter – clinically. He could not portray the multi-dimensional shrewd games that politicians play or fall prey to. There are editorial errors like character names being confused. All this makes this an average book.
I must admit that I have been connected to the author on Facebook for a long time. And I was probably expecting much more from him based on my perception of him or perception that his public persona creates. There could be an expectation bias to that extent in this review.