What do your parents bequeath to you? Do you look like them? Behave like them? Think like them? React like them? How intertwined is your present existence with your parent’s pasts? Dark Circles is a novel which delves deep into the ties which make or break families.
Ronojoy and Sujoy Chatterjee are two brothers. On the death of their mother, Ronojoy is handed over a letter written by her. The contents of the letter shake up the lives of the brothers. But the revelation also, in some way, brings closure to several disturbing happenings in their lives. Why did their father die? Why were they brought up by their grandmother, and why did their mother desert them? What was the equation between their parents? How do two children react when they are partially aware of something amiss between adults? And, will the brothers eventually be able to forgive their parents for neglecting them in their growing up years?
Dark Circles is Udayan Mukherjee’s debut novel. Udayan Mukherjee is better known for talking about stocks and shares on CNBC. He decided that he had enough of being a broadcaster and retired to the hills of Kumaon. And it was in the mountains that he wrote his debut novel. And he makes the hills come alive with his evocative descriptions.
What I particularly liked about the book is how the chapters have been placed. Layer by layer, the reader is dragged into the complexities which befall the family. And each character’s perspective is bared one after the other. Beneath the veneer of normalcy, lurks intense turmoil which eats into the psyche of the family. Feelings of guilt, anger, pain, regret and confusion. And yet, for all this complexity, Mukherjee succeeds in telling his tale in simple language. It is a book you will read in one go — from start to finish, as you will get entwined with the lives of these clearly etched characters.
Life is never perfect. How do you decide who is wrong and who is right? When it comes to human faults, follies and foibles, we do often underestimate our capacity to forgive. And perhaps forgiveness is the only way to move on with life and retain one’s sanity.
(Dark circles, by Udayan Mukherjee, Published by Bloomsbury India, 2018, Rs 399, 208 pages)