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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Queen of Dreams

I am on a Chitra Banarjee spree. I fell in love with her writing after reading Palace of Illusions. Such lucid style and hidden in that style is deep meaning.
All her books have a common thread - I am not talking of the bengali backdrop- I am talking of the commonality that manifests in the form of dreams, power of stories or rather the power of a spoken word that takes a life of its own and within itself, carries a lesson. I love the way she says that everyone visualizes a story in a different way- sees it in their own mind through different filters. I think that is a great insight for everyday life also.
Digression alert- Just the other day the husband and I were discussing the shape of a cabinet I had in mind- I said L shaped, visualising a vertical L- tall in the corner, and short but horizontally extending to cover the width of the space. The husband argues that there is no space for an L shaped cabinet- he imagining a horizontal 2 dimensional L.
Queen of Dreams take the power of dreaming to a magical (supernatural?) level. The story is built upon the idea that a dream is a telegram from the hidden world. And I interpret the hidden world to be the future, the unknown, the yet-to-happen, because they say the mind sees that which the eye cannot or refuses to see.
After reading the book, I tried to crystallise my thoughts. I realized that whichever angle I take to my review, I am bound to miss out some shades of the story. There are so many facets to it that it is difficult to put them on the same page without giving the entire story away. So I took the most obvious route -the protagonists point of view.
Rakhi is an artist living the typical American born desi life- American by birth but having a keen interest to know about her roots. Her paintings depict India as she imagines, her chai house is Indian as per her understanding of what is India.
Rakhi's mother has an incredible gift- the power to dream the dreams of other people, dream warnings and even dream lost dreams - dreams of people long gone. She seeks out people whose dreams she has dreamt and warn them of potential hazards.
But then, that is not what the story is all about. It has deeper significances as lot of reviewers point out- relationship between mother and daughter, the daughter's quest for her identity through her mother's journals, her struggle for survival post 9/11, and on top of that her love-hate relationship with her ex-husband.
The story flits from Rakhi's thoughts to her mother's journals swiftly in an almost ethereal fashion. After her mother's death, Rakhi finds her mother's journals. The journals answer most of Rakhi's questions about her roots- those which during her lifetime, her mother was never able to speak about. They explain about her struggle with her choices. Her struggle with herself to come to terms with the fact that to keep her gift intact, she had to give up on the most precious things in life which normally a woman or a person would choose- her family. Or perhaps in her case, her gift was the most important thing in her life- over and above anything or anyone else. Or perhaps she is not the stereotypical woman for whom the family comes first?

Some questions are left unanswered much to my annoyance, leaving me behind with a feeling of loose ends- I almost scraped at the book cover to see if some pages are stuck by the way!

Crossposted at booklovers


piyu said...

Delurking here to give you an award :)

Haven't commented, but I have been a long time reader of your blog :)

dipali said...

I get your feelings exactly!