“Are you happy?”, Sumit asked Avinash, looking straight into his eyes, both of them standing in the club room, they had spent their childhood in. “I am contented, I guess. I have a son, an ardent wife, my family is happy.” Avinash replied with no light in his eyes. “But, are YOU happy?” Sumit again asked and Avinash stayed silent and the silence revealed it all.
The novel.” Don’t Let Him Know” is a poignant account of how we as humans try to veil our real selves for the sake of those we love, how do we get torn between what we want for us and what others want for us, where we want to be and where others want us to be seen. With a compelling narrative, in 12 chapters, writer Sandip Roy takes us on an unforgettable journey of a family, so vivid and distinctive that by the end we are left questioning,”why for some dreams to come true, some have to stay a dream only?”
Avinash, a devoted father, and husband, who finds shelter in loneliness do not know that his ardent wife, Romola is aware of his lifelong attraction towards men. Having left behind a life he could only dream of in the evenings of Calcutta, be sitting in the club house with his lover Sumit by his side, singing old Hindi film songs, having rested his head on his shoulder, Avinash finds refuge for himself in Gay internet groups, lurking as Funman1234. His story speaks of thousands of stories like this, where homosexual men are forced into heterosexual marriages so that the name of the family does not get tarnished. Who pays the price? Many lives get destroyed because of one single act of refusal to accept, acknowledge and address this issue of sexuality, and the absolute arbitrariness of gender.
Romola, a newly arrived bride from Calcutta, accidentally opens a wrong letter, sitting in her Boxy apartment in Illinois, America, his husband off to work, that letter changes her life. Her past still lives in her diary, which she keeps tucked in her silk saris, of having played an awful rooftop game with her servant, of having romanced a Bengali Film star, all alive and breathing in words, pages yellow, being old, but the ink, still young and blue.
“Of-course. We are women. Our choices are never easy.” (Titanic) Neither are Romola’s. What she has left behind is something too hard to get back to. What she is going to get, is a plethora of uncertainties and vagueness, thousands of questions left unanswered, so she juggles, juggles between a definite disaster and a disaster of ambiguity, and at the moment, none seem unattainable. This is the story of probably her mother, her grandmother, her great grandmother and so on.
Amit, sleeping beside his girlfriend, June, In America, gets the news from his mother, over the phone, that a heart attack killed his father that morning. “My father is dead. That makes me half an orphan.I should say something. I should do something. I should know what to do.” But he does not get to do anything. All he could do is, cry in the plane, going back to America, parted from his mother and the world he grew in. How promising the idea of freedom and liberation seems sometimes, doesn’t it? But what is it that we really need to be liberated of? No matter how much we try, we can never get rid of who we are, the choices that shape us, often inspired by the past that we have lived. Sometimes in the chase of freedom, in the aim of transcending our realities, we land in this no man’s land of an identity crisis, between who we are and who we want to be, that we ourselves are not able to figure out.
All we can do at the end of the day is repent, for a living. While some are lucky enough, having the luxury to express, some, like Avinash, wait for the dark to set in, wait for the new moon, to shed tears. Some have the luxury of being able to say it when they are broken inside, but some, like Romola, only have to carry the facade of being happy, content when they are clearly not. Silence isn’t always a virtue.
Simple yet extreme, dark and yet bright, ‘Don’t Let Him Know’, is a different world in itself. We say, time is Healer, but in some lives, like in the characters of this story, Time is only a catalyst, enhancing all that that is vague, poignant, hard and extreme.
“Don’t let him know she liked them best, For this must ever be, a secret, kept from the rest, Just between you and me.” – By Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Reference links: http://www.livemint.com/Leisure/Jd9MBRiSsttpHEg0dBmmAO/Book-Review-Don’t-Let-Him-Know.html
|Name of the Book:||Don’t let him know|
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