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The Moods and Measurements of Love Lost and Love Found - Reading Rhododendrons by Sreetanwi Chakraborty—Kunal Roy

Name of the book : RHODODENDRONS

Author : Sreetanwi Chakraborty

Hardcover, Penprints Publication

Price : Rs 200.

Kunal Roy is an academic (JIS Group of Institutions) and author

The Moods and Measurements of Love Lost and Love Found - Reading Rhododendrons by Sreetanwi Chakraborty

    She is a woman of substance. She is an author, a poet, a critic, a teacher and above all a research scholar of repute. She is even a trained classical singer and painter. There are myriad shades to her magnetic personality. Yet the tone of her humbleness discovers a novel expression in the words she pens every time. Relationship bears a significant nuance to her. She values it and this very trait carries a concrete testimony to her recent literary work which has sold like hot cakes in the market. Rhododendrons is Sreetanwi’s debut novella, verging on the brink of a broken marriage, temptations of the body and an incessant quest for true love that ends on a complex psychological note. Sreenandini is the protagonist of the novella, married to Baishakh, and falling in love with Afroz, enumerates a roller-coaster ride about love, treachery, betrayal, and self-complacence that can possibly take many forms. In between, she is soaked in love from Amudhan, celebrating each and every part of his body till it amalgamates into hers. With an immaculate descriptive tone, Sreetanwi’s novella takes us on a multilayered journey of the city: “As Sreenandini alighted from her car in front of Flurys, she felt the sun caressing the nape of her neck, just below her messy hair bun. After a hard and exhausting day at the college, assignments, and other administrative works what she needed now were few hours of solitariness, a distant dream for her, a mirage in all its varieties.” (Chakraborty, 11)

    Rhododendrons aims to bring forth the various hues embedded in the soul of human relationship. It is amazing, strange, quaint, and often curious which overpowers the sense of prudence! Mind, the wonderful art of God is engrossed with the thoughts flowing steadily from the four quarters of the earth. Ecstasy is there. Perturbation is there too. At times it is difficult to assume the waxing and the waning phases of the human emotion taking root here. In fact, we are controlled by mind that eventually leads to creation, sustainability, rise and fall of our relationship over the passage of time. 

      The author has an eye for nuance and an ear for irony while delving deep into the subtlety of her characters as they manage to transit from one plane to another with a touch of amazing aplomb. The desperate scenes of lovemaking that the author portrays with stance to create deft, artistic strokes can be an instance of sheer poetry: “She woke up to the sharp litany of a beggar on the nearby street. Amudhan’s naked, supine body resembled a mahogany sculpture, exuding an uncannily beautiful aura. The morning sun penetrated through their bedsheets pretending to be unaware of the signs of the tempest, toss and turns the previous night. To Nandini, the years of self-negation were over, she inclined her head on his chest, and started pouring her love nectar along his denuded plains.” (Chakraborty, 22)

       The vivid and lively description of the nature’s cycle captures the rapt heed of the avid readers. The sudden breeze whistling through the twigs and boughs of a tree during a dusky summer. The romantic evenings which the author discovers to be synonymous with the heart of love and romance that pound heavily for Afroz at this very hour. The moving tales of Darjeeling, the parading clouds planting tender kisses on the sun-soaked mountain peaks, the spacious hotels, the reasonable motels and the lofty mansions breed a sense of appeal to the readers with a dash of elan. 

      However, it is interesting to note that the author loves to indulge in a blissful reminiscence as she talks on the school days, the teachers, the first love, the first infatuation accompanied by the occasional intrusion of adultery. There is also a profound touch of desperateness, vapidity, and an urge to believe that rhododendrons, the flower of choice can of a little help to tide over the ambient situations linked to a span of time. She writes about the lost time and lost child in a way that accepts and forsakes her simultaneously: “Several years before, the doctors scraped out her firstborn, the embryo, from the walls of her uterus, like her mother, who used to scrape coconut from tough, brown shells. Therapeutic processes now offered her pills coloured like a peacock’s feather and capsules that resembled the colour of obsidian.” (Chakraborty, 91)

     There is a shift in the plot as the author loves to talk at length on the first day of interview, her experience, her perpetual pleasure as she admits to be a worshipper of nature and the vision she matures to view the other side of the world. Indeed different from the myopic vision of the city life known for its hustle bustle, swelling crowds, morning cacophonies and an abstract dispersion of the mental make up!

    The months pass by. Time waves goodbye. New things begin to happen. The rains, shadows and shelters have also showed a change of pattern. Life begins to take a new turn bathed with hallucination, depression, dejection, suicides, and helplessness.

       Rhododendrons depicts the rich symbolic traits in the human character, human nature, and human bonds. There are aplenty of touches on a single canvas which further prove that she is an accomplished painter in every possible way. The language flows swiftly like a brook following a zig zag pattern through the crooked paths of a rock strewn ground. The coinage of apt words and the restrained use of expressions have taken the work to a different height of tone, texture and mobility. A true lover of literature can really provide a different interpretation to the end of the tale as one glues to one's seat without any grain of doubt! A delightful read for book-enthusiasts. 


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