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Realism of Memory


Amit Ranjan

MILJUL MANN
By Mridula Garg
Saamayik Prakashan, 2009, pp. 320, Rs. 495.00

VOLUME XXXVII NUMBER 6 June 2013

With our destinies, We all have a pact, It is the memories, That can choose their act M iljul Mann is not a ‘slice of life’ novel, but a ‘slice of mind’ novel. It is Realism, but Realism of memory. There are two primary narrators of the novel, the first person protagonist Mogra, and her spinster friend who attempt to recount the story of the life of Mogra’s sister Gulmohar. The two narrators do not come with the Roshomon archetype, that is, they do not narrate the same incidents from different points of view. They have different points of view, and give alternative views to the other narrator’s but keep moving the story forward in a seeming bildungsroman fashion. However, it seems like, for one story leads to other, and this digression is always questioned by the chronicler narrator, but only to highlight the problems of the linear narrative.   To come to the initial verse that I have written as an epigraph to this review, the destiny of the narrator-protagonist Mogra is fixed—of being a conformist bright girl who would be under the shadow of her nonconformist non-studious sister Gul, who is clever, sexy and worldly. That she would lose to her sister in the battle of love is destined as well. It is Mogra’s memory that throws this standard lived experience into a whirlwind of questions. Shamit, the beloved, is in love with Gul, but spends most of his time with her sister. His mother would rather have the ‘fairer’ Mogra as her daughter-in-law than the universally bewitching but darker Gul. The beloved, a salesman at heart, who can sell himself and things through his glib tongue is unable to retain his romanticism after marriage, he turns into a compulsive alcoholic. Gul, who was never an introvert, turns into a writer in her thirties and combines her skills of worldliness with it, and is able to imitate various voices that she hears in the world.   The book starts with set paradigms, and they are not imagined—they are real, the tribulations of childhood that has to deal with adult clichés—but shows how even lived facts have so many fissures in them, how one tries to live up to one’s image but cannot do so. The most exemplary case of this in the novel is Mogra unable to live up her own imagined ...


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