Sunday, April 09, 2017

Bitter Sweets

After reading The Lives of Others, I felt this was a bit of an overload of Kolkata and Dhaka. But indeed it's a much lighter read with dark humour. It's a story of how people create intricate lies so perfectly for so long that often they successfully deceive themselves. I suppose that's the key to a perfect lie that even the liar has forgotten the truth.
It takes us through three generations of the Karim family that engage in double lives. What's the most interesting bit is that at some point they all seem to know the truth and yet ignore it. It's so much easier to create and live another lie instead.
And when it becomes a habit, it's hard to shake off.

There I've said it, the essence of the book. I need not have written so many lines where one would suffice ! It's a soap opera with overtones of the bold and the beautiful.

The first generation of Henna and Rashid is a marriage based on lies, which doesn't surprise me because in the olden days I believe it was acceptable to have some level of deception in talking up a prospective bride or groom. It's like a CV after all. This leads Rashid to have a second life (or the first depending on how you look at it) as Ricky in London, while Henna keeps up appearances as a dutiful glamorous wife of a globe trotting businessman.
The second generation of Parvez and Shona also start double lives as they have other interests.
The third generation of the twins Omar and Sharif is filled with lies too but a lot of that seemed normal to me. Both of them keep their love interests from their parents.

I don't know whether I'm supposed to be sad that none of the lies seemed outrageous to me because people lie all the time or it may be that this book has tried to show to western audiences how deceitful the Bangla community can be. After all, the only supposedly truthful people in this book are the very British Verity Trueman and her half white daughter Candida. Even though Candida is as deceitful as Sharif. But then again she is only half white. May be I'm judging the author too harshly. I don't know how London was all those years ago.

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