Book Review: Homecoming by Rituparna Khan

Book Review by Naina Dey

Homecoming - Rituparna Khan
Virasat Art Publication
December 2022
ISBN 978-93-93063-27-4
Pages – 137
Price – ₹ 300/-

‘“Homecoming” is a journey of almost three decades, portrayed in the shape of my debut novella’ – claims the author’s note to Rituparna’s book. The narrative revolves around Ujjaini, a middle-aged Sociology professor involved in community service, her relationships and her daily struggles as a single woman. The narrative told from the perspective of Ujjaini moves from present to a past through introspection and then to the present as it gradually moves on to the dramatic unfolding of the identity of Umr Khalid, a renowned Pakistani writer who turns out to be Ujjaini’s long lost lover Ushnish. The novella predictably concludes with their union and Ushnish’s homecoming while celebrating a spiritual union of two nations.
The novella is structurally divided into two parts – the first, portraying the world of Ujjaini, juggling between academics and the NGO. It is a women’s world inhabited by Anandi, Pratyusha, Vimla and Jaya. As Ujjaini takes Anandi and Pratyusha under her care despite her own hectic schedule, she finds solace in the company of mother and daughter.

Rituparna Khan
As one reads Rituparna’s Homecoming, one may regard it as an instance of ‘relational psychology’ pioneered by Carol Gilligan which was founded upon a vision of women as inextricably connected to others in their deepest commitments, beliefs, ideals, judgements and actions. Gilligan’s project had sought to rectify the exclusion of women, and women’s experience and perspectives, from the moral domain thus putting into relief the affinities between the female self and the self-constructed by the communitarians. Thus, though Ujjaini/Jini can afford Anandi’s education and undertake Pratyusha’s medical expenses due to her financially privileged position, her own life can only be fulfilled with the miraculous reappearance of a lost lover. While as an independent woman Ujjaini is capable of decision making, she also feels loneliness as a single woman. Gilligan, who has argued against the dichotomizing of reason and emotion, has stated in “Reply by Carol Gilligan” (Linda K. Kerber, On In a different voice: An interdisciplinary forum, 1986):  
Naina Dey

Critics equate care with feelings, which they oppose to thought, and imagine caring as passive or confined to some separate sphere. I describe care and justice as two moral perspectives that organize both thinking and feelings and empower the self to take different kinds of action in public as well as private life.

However, other than the central narrative about the life of Ujjaini, there is Pratyusha’s past as a battered and molested wife which offers a glimpse into a parallel world of squalor and physical violence on women. As a debut novella, Rituparna’s book succeeds in keeping up readers’ interest and one can hope the writer to scale newer heights in her upcoming literary ventures. 

Bio: Naina Dey
Dr Naina Dey is a critic, translator and a widely anthologized creative writer. She has authored books on critical studies, translations and three volumes of poetry. She was awarded the “Excellence in World Poetry Award, 2009 by the International Poets Academy, Chennai and was among a team of young Indian writers felicitated jointly by Sahitya Akademi and Visva-Bharati University in 2010. She is currently functioning as Eastern Zonal Secretary of The Shakespeare Society of India, New Delhi. She is concept creator of literary and artistic organ Chamunda’s Dream. 

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