Wednesday, 13 April 2016


Shadow & Soul

By Nandita Bose

After a Masters in English Literature and a Ph D in Aesthetics, more than twenty years in academia and then running her own Performance Management Consultancy, Nandita Bose turned to a long-cherished dream of writing. The area of interest is relationships that best reflect our society and how affinities develop within it. ‘Shadow & Soul’ is Nandita’s fourth book.


My profession of teaching and vocation of writing sucks up most of my day. So my longing to read is a thing of leftover-leisure. Thus, I am a picky reader. However, nothing comes between when it comes to reading a book from an authoress, who I consider the best among the contemporary Indian writers. Ever since I have read her ‘Perfume of Promise’, I am her fan.
‘Shadow & Soul’ by Nandita Bose is one book I have been anxiously waiting for.
I started the book with great appetite. Frankly, the story failed to impress me initially, but the marvel of the language, the piercing analogies, the poetry in her prose, the masterly choice of words to describe emotions which my eyes perceived as words but they touched my soul, sustained my interest. 


‘Shadow & Soul’ is a story which shows how indispensable love is. The character of Devika as a woman married only for dowry, then ignored and astonishingly disowned, like a lifeless article in the huge house her parents pay to her doctor husband in lieu of marrying her, has been beautifully portrayed by Nandita Bose. Devika is starving emotionally and carnally when Shaurjyo, a distant relative of her husband comes to their house for a vacation.
Though he was younger, their proximity leads to physicality, care, concern and mutual fulfillment, and consequently emotional attachment that make Devika a rebel. One may disapprove their relationship in beginning, but immorality too has justification sometimes. When the story reveals the meanness of her husband, Devika’s lapse into infidelity doesn’t pinch.
The narration is amazing. Though, Devika and Shaurjyo dawdle along years, chanced meetings and Shaurjyo’s visits and they don’t bind themselves with any hurried commitment, the story progresses at a good pace. The author keeps taking the readers back and forth into time making it an amazing and interesting read.
“…Everything was a waste. Everything. Even life is nothing but a waste. It is no more than a candle flame that snuffs out unexpectedly. But at least, the candle serves a purpose, brightens gloom for that period. A life does not…”
Until Page 153, I abhorred the two protagonists. Shaurjyo to me was an opportunist and Devika, a lovelorn woman who easily and readily lapsed into infidelity. Then comes a chapter ‘Young Woman Reading’ and changed my perception of them.  It had already satiated the writer in me, but the reader in me was also gratified until I read the last line. True....there are moments then there is life.
‘Shadow & Soul’ is a wonderful read. It shows how indispensable love is. Devika longs for it. Shaurjyo finds it in an older woman and not in his women colleagues. Devika’s husband ties knot with her for the grand ‘Meera Mansion’ but fails to bind his soul with hers and abandons her and the mansion. The only cruelty on his part is that he never feels guilty of having stolen her life from her.
Lovemaking between Devika and Shaurjyo has been described with poise and aplomb, keeping it decent. The author has told these amorous moments from the mouth of Devika and Shaurjyo both and she does commendably well.
“…And my tongue roved her skin returning often to the honeycomb of her breasts, the coral of her lips. She tasted of salt and memories and me…”

 And at last, love triumphs over all.
The cover is yet another marvel from Pinaki De. It is, always a delight to read her work and this book added to my reverence for her writing.
‘Shadow & Soul’ is worth reading, not for its story but for its amazing literary beauty.

Other Books By Nandita Bose-


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