BOOK REVIEW: THE OTHER SIDE OF THE TABLE

Posted: October 13, 2014 in Fiction

 

the-other-side-of-the-table-madhumita-mukherjee

Author: Madhumita Mukherjee

Publisher: Prakash Books India

Price: Rs. 135/-

ISBN: 9788172344474

Pages: 240

Rating: 3.5 on 5 stars

When I got copy of this book, I was not really thrilled. I unfurled its pages- lo and behold- it was entirely in the form of letters! So, I kept it aside with the intention of coming to it later. And on weekend, I opened it once again, assuming it would be worth a read. In one go, I was through it.
What is it all about?

The book comprises of letters written by Abhimanyu, a neurosurgeon practicing in England and Uma, a medical student, addressing to each other. They share over 125 letters over a time span of 10 years, between 1990 and 1999. And in them, they share every aspect of their lives: be it professional or personal. How the two know each other is not clearly stated in the book.

Characters

Uma, aged  18 or 19, is a smart girl who aspires to be a doctor. She is a smart lady determined to achieve her goals, as is clear from her choice of surgery as the specialization, a field that is considered unfit for women. But at times, she also succumbs to pressure: she goes for an arranged marriage, knowing that the boy is not suitable for her. She resigns from her post as doctor when she is blamed for the death of an old patient.
Abhimanyu, the skilled neurosurgeon, is a strong character. He is always there to guide Uma whenever she is confused or when her life hits rough weather. He is fun-loving and enjoys good time bonding with his male friends. Personally, he has been through many failed relationships. As he falls prey to some dreaded disease, he loses meaning of life and is forced to lead a secluded life.

How the characters bond with each other?

The two characters are big loners in their own way. Though they live within the humdrum of two busy cities, they can’t share their feelings with anyone else; so they confide only in each other. Sitting miles apart, they discuss almost everything that their life is connected to. She tells him about her family, Bengali traditions, her experiences as a student of medicine, and her hardships as a married woman. At times, when she finds it too difficult to carry on with his life, she finds solace in Abhimanyu’s letters. He tells her about his life as neurosurgeon in London. Both of them discuss their love lives and sexual relations too.

How does story progress?

The initial letters have the usual chit-chat about what’s going around in their lives. Every letter from Abhi is answered by Uma, but not necessarily. Every letter carries a date on top, so the readers can know about the gap between consecutive ones. Uma gets married one day and Abhi is not surprised. In the later letters, she shares her marital problems and he, his new job and his travel experiences. The story culminates in 1999 when the two are facing grave problems in their lives. The author, Madhumita Mukherjee, being born & brought up in a Bengali family and having practiced medicine in London, has based her story largely upon these two places. And from her writing, it is clear that she knows nuances of these two contrasting cultures.

What does the book convey

The story reaffirms the fact that relationships are fragile; unless they are nurtured with love, they are bound to fall apart. The decisions taken in haste can ruin everything. It tells that world does not take easy on women who chose unconventional path for them. And it also shows that relations can flourish in spite of the long distances between people.

How it ends?

The book ends on a positive note. You need to read it to know how it ends.

My Rating: 3.5

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