Three Women, And A Glimpse Of Divinity

About mothers and daughters and their fragile and often fraught bond.
Three Women, And A Glimpse Of Divinity
outlookindia.com
2016-07-09T10:53:30+0530
Before We Visit The Goddess
By Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Simon & Shuster | Pages: 224 | Rs. 399

Three women—grandmother, mother, daughter—populate Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s new book, a novel told in the form of short stories. So we meet Sabitri, the ailing grandmother, in 1995, as she puts pen to paper in her ancestral village, some distance from Calcutta. She is writing to her granddaughter, Tara, who she has never met, about a life-changing decision she is about to make. As she writes, we trace Sabitri’s dramatic rise and fall, from poverty to one of Calcu­tta’s best sweet-makers, her complicated marriage, the birth of her daughter, Bela, and life spiralling out of control.

Advertisement opens in new window

Divakaruni shifts gears, and retreats more than three decades to her next story, exploring the story of a young Bela in 1963. The stubborn, reserved, whimsical daughter of a gritty and stoic Sabitri. Bela grows up, flees with her political refugee boyfri­end to American shores. Then comes along Tara, her daughter, who grows up with dil­emmas of her own—dropping out from college, and not knowing where she belongs. And so we swing from 1963 to 2020, each story picking a different period in the lives of these women, between east India and America. Each thread breaks down the tra­­ditional novel to suit the form of short stories. There is room to breathe even while being able to enjoy the narrative as a whole.

This is more than a story of immigrant angst and displaced identity. There’s magic, drama, breaking and healing through culinary pleasures.

Before We Visit the Goddess is more than a story of immigrant angst and displaced identity. There’s magic, drama, breaking and healing through culinary pleasures. This novel is about mothers and daughters and their fragile and often fraught bond. What Divakaruni’s three women don’t find in conventional parental figures, Sabitri, Bela, Tara, seek in others they meet, and some unusual, heartening relationships are formed. In many ways, this brightens the novel that is, largely, an exercise in mourning—for mistakes that shouldn’t have been made, for relationships that des­troyed other relationships. The motif of food and its powers is soothing.

The strongest characterisation is that of its oldest heroine, Sabitri. The two younger women are less fleshed out, and far less worthy of empathy. Divakaruni’s dysfuncti­onal women make you wonder about human motivations. Why self-des­truct? If only there was a simple answer.

Post a Comment


You are not logged in, To comment please / Register
or use
Next Story : Spoken Like Savant Superior
Download the Outlook ​Magazines App. Six magazines, wherever you go! Play Store and App Store
THE LATEST ISSUE
CLICK IMAGE FOR CONTENTS
REVIEW
Review
With their subtle colouring of death, caste, music and natural life, and often about women staring challenges out, Ambai’s stories whisper quotidian tales
MAGAZINE October 20, 2017
Review
Militaries have a stranglehold on the political economies of Southeast Asian nations. This superb work of research illuminates them like never before.
MAGAZINE October 20, 2017
Review
Within its slim girth, Manu Joseph’s new novel manages a bilious survey of things held dear in India, including bearded overlords and an ageing crime
MAGAZINE October 13, 2017
Review
The advent of television spawned the first of the ads that were truly Indian in flavour. Pops Sridhar looks at the iconic ones that triggered our common dreams.
MAGAZINE October 13, 2017
Review
Jholawala Dreze’s ‘research for action’ gets close to the people at the end of public policy. These essays urge greater collaboration between activists and economists.
MAGAZINE October 13, 2017
read more>>>
Advertisement

OUTLOOK TOPICS :

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

or just type initial letters