A Forgotten Affair

by Kanchana Banerjee

Read this in about 5 minutes
'There's only one thing worse than being treated as an object of sexual desire: not being seen as one by the guy you like.' Kanchana Banerjee gives a channel for the volcanoes inside the soul to erupt in an elegant flow. The book here exposes the innermost desires and hurt, however ugly faced they are. 

Cover page 

On the cover are beautiful flowers intertwined with the text. The flower has a significance in the story and the typography is elegant. It makes one of those covers that you come around to love for their simple and elegant design. The spine is divided in half by two colors. It comes out to be a little dull as compared to the top and end covers. But overall it is an elegant design nevertheless.

Characters 

The book dictates the story of Sagarika. Her life turned into a blank screen after Mumbai suffered a series of bomb blasts, of which she is a victim. She loses her memory and a lot more. She now looks frail with her tall and broad frame. Her face is pale and eyes sunken. She is now dependent on someone or the other all the time. Rishab, her husband, is one of them. 
After going through several hardships in the relationship, he wants a fresh start now. He is a calm person with a hurricane in his demeanour. He never shouts but his tone is enough to send a chill down the spine. There is something that he doesn't want Sagarika to find out, but slowly it's slipping away for everyone to see. 
Akash is thirty-eight-year-old bachelor who loves his life. A lively person liked by everyone he met. Not traffic stopping handsome, but pleasant-faced, with straight silly hair cut short and black eyes that had a naughty shine in them.
These three distinct characters come together to weave a thrilling, heart-wrenching story of love, deception and realisation. The characters are easy to read about. The author has done a stunning job of giving each of them their uniqueness with all their flaws and goodness. 

Content 

The story begins with Sagarika in a hospital recovering from the head injury and memory wipe-out after the bomb blast in Mumbai. While she is annoyed with her brain's resistance to let any memory in, she is intrigued by how everyone who comes to meet her praises Rishab. It is like shoving down a portrait of Rishab, dissolved in a concoction of an ideal man, down her resistive throat. She is trying hard to remember everything that she was before the blast, but all in vain. Memories come back but in flashes. 
During the course of the story, things start to fall in place. Sagarika realised that Rishab is not the husband everyone wants her to believe he is. But she was happy earlier. With someone else. She is determined to find that happiness but someone doesn't want her memories to be back. 
The story is thrilling. Each chapter leaves you with an astonishing revelation and you are left craving for more. All goes well until towards the last 50 pages of the book where the soul of a dead beat movie script seems to take over a pious body of a self-contained novel. 
The grand escape Sagarika makes lands her right into the arms of her saviour. He beats up the goons and saves her. Everything after this gets predictable.
Thus a good story gasps for air towards the last quarter of the book but eventually succumbs to a painful death. 

Language 

The author has a way with words, that's quite clear. Her descriptions let you wander in her world enjoying every bit. She conveys the feelings like an ace. Here is a glimpse. 
Laughter filled the air. The room was warm enough to allow pashmina stoles and leather jackets to be casually thrown aside. The scent of faint perfume and the aroma of fine wine mingled merrily with the sound of amicable, light-hearted banter. Well-manicured fingers held delicate stems of Murano wine glasses while finely cut scotch tumblers swirled in some others. Muted mood lighting threw shadows of figurines, statues on the walls. Men gaily flirted with the women and the latter sportingly returned the favour. The sharp bitter cold outside didn't bother anyone. Central heating and the company of friends kept it at bay. 
The graceful description of the mood of the evening is enchanting here but sadly the obsessive use of passive voice and unnecessary usage of the redundant words kill the narration towards the end. The book appears to have suffered a shift in the mood of the author, which irks. 

Good points 

The cover page is beautiful. It's subtle as if it is reminiscent of a sweet memory. The characters are very interesting to read about. They all have their dark sides, making them human. The content seems to have a flow. The language is simple. It makes the book easy to read.

Bad points 

The book seems to be a little rushed towards the end. A shift in the temperament of the story can be clearly seen. The narration starts out to be engrossing but towards the end feels like a drag. The story starts getting unrealistic. 

Overall 

Overall, the book is engrossing. It is a great first attempt by the author. Definitely, puts her on the map. I will be waiting to see what she writes next. 

Who do I recommend this to 

This book is for those who enjoy a quick read with lots of drama. Those who like strong female characters are going to love this too.

Quotable quotes 

Years went by. The ceramic plates lost their sheen, like everything else. Especially the love between them. Coping with disease, spiralling medical expenses, Sunita's hectic life of running from school to home to tuitions to keep money trickling in, love was something that stood no chance. 
Sometimes you need to lose everything to recognise what matters the most.
A copy of the book was provided by the author for review. The opinion here is my own, uninfluenced. 

Veena Choudhary

An avid reader and history fanatic.

Mumbai, MH merakipost.com