Nowadays in British library apart from the books written by British authors and apart from the plots set in the English land, I also find books written by Indian authors and set in our own native land. These books help me in enjoying a light read and I can know many stories happening in our country. In that way, during my last library visit, I picked up this novel by Shashi Deshpande. Having read another novel of hers, I was quite confident that this book is going to be again a nice one and it turned true. The story is about Saritha – a doctor, mother of 2 kids – Renu and Abhi, wife of a not-so famous writer - Manu, daughter of orthodox parents and a sister of late brother Dhruva.
Has anyone come across a mother who hates her daughter so much to an extent that she detest to remember about her daughter even at her death bed? Saritha aka Saru has such a strong hearted mother. She was always found fault for her doings right from the time she entered this world. It was not her mistake to be born as a girl to those orthodox parents who wanted a boy instead. Even after getting a boy, Dhruva as their second child, Saru’s parents never stopped scolding her. Dhruva was 7-8 years old then. He used to be so afraid of the dark and always gets comfort when he sleeps with Saru, rather than sleeping alone as instructed by his mother. One rainy night, Saru takes an adventure to go to the outskirts of the city. To her dismay, Dhruva follows her and gets trapped in a mushy land and fall into a pond and give his life. For this unexpected tragedy, helpless Saru will be blamed and called as a murderer by her mother for whom Saru is already a burden.
Saritha gets used to the atmosphere of unloving and uncaring parents. She moulds her future all by herself and joins a Medical college, gets married to a literary fanatic- Manohar in spite of much opposition from her mother. After nearly 10 years, one fine day in her clinic, a relative of hers breaks the news that Saru’s mother passed away a month ago. She gets shattered to hear it and decides to confront her father after a long time. The run – away daughter from home did not have the chance to meet her mother even when her mother was dying. Saru’s personal life with Manohar was also not good though it looks complete from outside. She lives a very bland life and always toils herself so much for the family of 2 children and for a husband who earns much less than her.
Manohar never cared to talk to Saritha about her mother or father or her late brother or about that tragedy. The night when Dhruva left this world haunted her dreams day and night even after 10 years. Though theirs was a love marriage, Manu and Saru lead a life which is full of adjustments done from Saru’s end. Manu never ever thought of upbringing his career and remained as a literary professor. He was enjoying all the comforts given by Saru who never missed to attend her patients in the morning and attend him at night. The care, love and affection which he showed towards Saru when he was courting her – all slowly faded out completely after 10 years to such an extent that he did not know where he is wrong and what is his mistake. An irresponsible and a total fool he has turned out.
Saru’s world remained dark and she had none to pour out and complain to. Even when she tried to explain her difficulties to Manohar – he did not consider them as great things and silently forgotten them. All of a sudden, one day Saru packs her bags, leaves her kids and reaches her father’s home. The author has put this scene in the first page of the novel and shows Saru as a hesitant lady to open up discussions about her mom or her husband. Neither did her mom forgive her nor did she give a chance to her to explain what happened on that stormy night of Dhruva’s death.
After so much hesitation, Saru confronts her father one day asking him so many questions – “Why does mother always think me as the one who killed Dhruva? Why didn’t she wish to see me at her last days? Why didn’t she love me as she loved Dhruva? Why should I live with the guilt of unsatisfying mom throughout my life? Why haven’t I given a chance to prove myself to her?” To all these questions, her father did not have answers. Later when her father receives a letter from Manu asking Saru to return back, he understands that her daughter is deep trouble. He helps her to talk about all agony Saru had kept within herself all these years. Saru blurts out the truth to her father that Manu behaves so violently with her in bed at night. Her father tries to console Saru and advices her not to be resilient but to face anything boldly.
The realization that Saru gets after nearly a fortnight stay in her father’s house is that it is her life that she is living and she has to live no matter how many hurdles come. She has to live for her own happiness by forgetting all about the past. “It is my life and I have rights to live in my own way”. She gets the courage to face the Dark, now that she knows that The Dark Holds No Terrors. The novel ends there and the author did not tell what Saru did after that. I somehow like this kind of ending where I can use my imagination for Saru’s life. Wish to read many more novels like this.