Book Review: Corners of a Straight Line

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Love is indeed visible in ‘the Corners of a Straight Line’

Life can never be lived while travelling on a straight line, it is indeed the corners that shapes our destiny and our character at large.

I never wanted a straight line to epitomize my life, I preferred corners

Corners of a Straight Line opens the essence of life and love in its prologue where author Chandra Shekar Verma clearly states that the novel is a memoir of his real relationships in life, a semi autobiographical experience about love. To start with I would say this honest approach towards love is sweet and beautiful. He talks about the complexities and various shades of love which chisells ones life. True love or an emotion which brings together the four dimensions of mind, heart, body and soul leads us to a divine connection with peace.

This search for peace and love is the core of this story, but how does one understand love?

My mind began to question and the author further says,

“We can only understand love once we are out of it”

Even though I have never fallen in love it always intrigues me to know what exactly love is through the perspective of the 21st century restless heart. Perhaps this story could shed some light. I began my journey with Atharv Srivastava, the protagonist’s whole life revolves around his relationships with four women, Siya, Resham, Vedita and Susan – each entering his life when he is about to fall out and loose it.

A busy Sunday in Kolkata submerged in the festivity mood of Puja’s under the Gariahat Bridge with my favourite lemon tea; I sat and browsed through the novel. This was a great setting for me as Atharv was a political journalist in Calcutta Chronicles narrating with a refreshing flair about his job’s demands, his life and the political turmoil’s in Kolkata. The author had weaved all four phases of Atharv’s life flawlessly. I immediately got attracted to the story with each piece of puzzle falling into place and each relationship ending with a twist. The narration and writing style caught my attention so much that a person like me who stays away from political news of any kind loved to inform myself about Kolkata’s political background and the iron will with which a journalist survives in the conspiring world of journalism.

His first encounter with Siya, a young journalistic enthusiast happens in Nandan in his photography exhibition where Siya immediately asks him a favour, to get her a job in Calcutta Chronicles like Resham who asks for a portfolio shoot later and Atharv says yes to avail the opportunity of getting to know the women a little more; it is needs of his heart and body that drives him in the initial phase of his relationships with them.

I am quite surprised to see the opportunistic mindset of people through these characters and summarise that today the trend of falling in love is for falling in love with our needs in life. I realized Atharv and the women characters fall for each other almost immediately and I question myself, how can love happen so fast? The answer to this was in reality. In this fast changing world we have high expectations for ourselves which often leaves one very lonely and insecure and falling in love is a way of overcoming that loneliness. So it is indeed a psychological need that leads the characters in going for love as their mind and desires initiate them.

Siya is an innocent girl with strong values, Resham is an ambitious woman with loyalty, Vedita is a fierce successful woman and Susan a lost soul looking for life. All is beautiful until it looses itself to lust in the ugly world. One has to be smart enough to neither fall into the garbage bin nor fall out of it, but be on the edge of the world and survive. The women fall in and out of it, Atharv too does the same when he sees filth creeping in his relationship which most of the time is initiated by circumstances, he moves on. This falling in and out of relationships is very predictable, I found the surprise element very less as the book progressed and a dramatic ending of each story didn’t leave any strong impression in my mind. What I enjoyed initially, the suspense and thrilling turn of events that affects their lives was now turning into a predictable ending.

Vedita’s strong desire to win over the business world with Atharv’s yearning for making money brings the two together in a mindless desire loop. With Susan he tries to understand what went wrong in his previous relationships. We see him as a man who is taking charge of his own life now but again he succumbs in the world of Vedita.

I liked Vedita more than the other women characters as she is a survivor. She marries a man from a different caste for her own reasons, she knows how to take revenge from her suppressors, she knows how to make money using brains but when loyalty towards family jolts her existing life, she chooses family over an affair. I don’t get to see much of the other characters, they come and go very easily thus understanding them is confusing but shades of darkness in each of them makes them very believable characters.

Various issues of our existing society is cleverly dealt with in the plot like inter-caste marriage, the exploitation of women in fashion and journalism industries, religious intolerance, political upheavals, stereotypical issues, rapes and violence. Having come to the end I was left with an open ending to ponder upon the real essence of love and the delusional mindset of today’s generation. If Atharv found peace or love was left for me to figure out.

Life isn’t a straight line at all I realised and kept wondering to figure out what was Atharv’s love tales to do with life at large. Maybe it is true, our relationships makes us, defining who we are and leading us to ourselves in the end. So the question remains now, to love or not to love.

There is no doubt that the author knows how to tell a story owing to his literary and physiological field experiences which is what I really liked about this novel and it is indeed again a gem from Rupa Publications. It is very important to be well read and knowledgeable before taking up the difficult yet challenging task of writing a literary piece. Polished language and proper usage of twists really adds edge to this story. It speaks quite a great deal about how things work in real life, even love, but as a philosophical reader I wish the concept of love could have been shown in a different way so that this could have been called a literary piece. But giving it to the author, he has the potential to pen a literary piece soon provided he can write about life at large and I am looking forward to it.

Readers who are craving for a good story can pick this up, its way better than most clichéd ones out there.

Title: Corners of a Straight Line
Author: Chandra Shekar Verma
Publisher/ Imprint: Rupa Publications
Pages: 336
Genre/ Sub-Genre: Fiction/ Romance
Rating: 3.50 of 5
Reviewed for: Publisher

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