Conflict of Concepts: A Pleasant Secret

Review by Sahab Uddin, Associate Professor cum Head, Dept. of English, Haji Anfar Ali College, Doboka, Hojai, Assam

Iram Fatima Ashi, besides being an erudite scholar and poetess, ranks as one of the wonderful novelists for flourishing presentation of her novels. With You Forever, her debut novel, has also been referred at the end of her second creation A Pleasant Secret. The very title of the novel fascinates me so much that I completed reading comparatively in lesser time than the time I actually take in reading novels. It is, indeed, a page-turning novel with a different outlook and perspective.

After reading the novel, different opinions transpire in my mind and I could not resist myself but to articulate a few words about the novel. The novel reminds me one of the famous verses of the Bible—“Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant” meaning that forbidden delights are sweet and pleasant, as fruits of risk and danger. Wells and fountains of waters earlier in hot countries were very valuable, and were the property of particular persons; about which there were sometimes great strife and contention; and they were sometimes sealed and kept from the use of others and waters got by stealth from such wells and fountains were sweeter than their own. The proverb alludes that all prohibited unlawful lusts and pleasures are desirable to men, and sweet is the enjoyment of them; and the pleasure promised by them is what makes them so desirable, and the more so because it is forbidden.

Iram Fatima ‘Ashi’
In the novel A Pleasant Secret, the bond between the protagonist, Sumit Agarwal and Khusbu Khanna remained secret to Seema, Sumit’s wife until the end of the novel even after getting a scope for sharing the secret while Seema offered for surrogacy. Sumit could easily name Khusbu Khanna for surrogacy and that could serve two ends at single effort. Perhaps, the novelist didn’t opt for unison, but wanted to portray both the relationships identically through single character—the husband-wife relationship on the one hand and the lover-beloved relationship on the other to make obvious the protagonist of her novel devoted and successful in balancing both the situations.

In addition to above, what stresses my mind more is that, the novel not only portrays the conflict between tradition and modernity through the stories of Seema and Khusbu respectively, but also exposes the two different sides of the same womanly coin. Seema is well educated and working girl while Khusbu a CEO, UGX Garments. Both are highly qualified and claim to be the representatives of upper class women with a feminine sensibility. In the present day elite Indian society, where career is more important than the rituals and relationship, people live a very artificial life without even realizing the meaning of living—may be either because of self-respect or of coercion. Seema’s inclination in living alone, disinclination in joining the family gathering of any of Sumit’s relatives or friends and Sumit’s leading of lonesome life cutting off by his own parents and friends, Seema’s stubborn nature that has made her childless—all these are not new in an elitist society. On the other hand, Khusbu’s selfless love for Sumit, her remaining alone without being married, her bursting into tears and taking care of Danish’s mother while Captain Danish Siddique lost his life in the operation to flush out terrorists holed up near residential quarters inside Arawali Army Camp in Jammu—all these show that rituals and relationship are equally important as living life of one’s own will is important. Thus, the novel reveals two different natures of elitist women. One always cared about her future and career and took her husband and having the child aside whereas another woman made her customs and relationships the first and foremost priority and took her business deals aside when she is with her love or husband. It also has revealed the true tie of companionship beyond any border of business, religion and caste. Such bonds last evermore.

The novelist too agreed that all marriages are not made in Heaven and a few socially chosen partners turn their conjugal life into a living hell. This has well been portrayed by the Seema-Sumit relationship. This shows that the novelist wishes to give a stand against fake social norms that sometime chain people beyond their vision. On the other hand, if we sketch the character of Sumit, round whom the whole story revolves, we find that he is a practical conventional person who values social norms and ethics of life. Sumit is a true human who even agreed to adopt a child for parenting, considering that Seema’s dream of becoming mother will be fulfilled and their loneliness will turn into happiness.

A close review of character sketches reveals that the conceptual conflict continues till the end of the novel. Seema is not ready to adopt a baby, unlike Sumit. She prefers divorce. Sumit fails to honour Seema’s wish; but can’t control him while Seema talks about divorce. He lost his courage even to admit that his present has made his past more mesmerized. Sumit suffers from such inner conflicts of mind—conflict between the past and the present. What moral lesson, according to me, the novel imparts is that if two successful people marry—that generally takes place in our traditional society—their self-esteem may collide in a fight and both of them loses the battle at the end. Sumit had to surrender himself to the present making a balance between the two quarrelling situations—social norms on the one hand and the ethics of love on the other.

Many a people in our present day world suffer like Sumit in the society. Their stories remain unheard and thus inaccessible. Laws and other regulating authorities look askance to them while their journey stand on a point where the road is bifurcated in two and the traveler fails to choose the right road for him. The novelist, Iram Fatima Ashi has made a very honest and bold attempt to bring out before the readers the hidden truth that male beings have their own compassionate hearts and they too, bleed.
If you’re a book lover who can’t help but get lost in a story, then you must read this love story ‘A PLEASANT SECRET’, RECOMMENDING THIS ROMANTIC NOVEL TO DISCOVER EMOTIONAL JOURNEY.

No comments :

Post a Comment

We welcome your comments related to the article and the topic being discussed. We expect the comments to be courteous, and respectful of the author and other commenters. Setu reserves the right to moderate, remove or reject comments that contain foul language, insult, hatred, personal information or indicate bad intention. The views expressed in comments reflect those of the commenter, not the official views of the Setu editorial board. प्रकाशित रचना से सम्बंधित शालीन सम्वाद का स्वागत है।