Bangalore-based author Nandita Bose’s second novel, The Perfume of Promise, is a story of triumph of love over difficult circumstances
“There are certain people who do their duty to everyone around them. I want to write about them.” Gauri, the protagonist in Nandita Bose’s second novel The Perfume of Promise, is a dutiful daughter to her widowed mother and a forgiving sibling to her sisters. Like any middle-class girl, Gauri is judged by her sisters and community for being unmarried in her late twenties. Her life takes an unexpected turn when Sashwat, younger than Gauri, asks her hand in marriage. She acquiesces to the alliance, but marriage for Gauri is beset with challenges as the couple struggles to develop a deep bond amid challenges of creating channels of communication and Sashwat’s seven-year-long absence in their marriage.
A reader would relate to the very real characters, moulded evocatively by Nandita, and be drawn by the novel’s powerful visual element. How does Nandita describe nuanced emotions so effectively?
“It’s easy for me to write realities because I have seen these realities. I have seen characters like Gauri who are never given a chance but on whom life thrusts a bigger role. I have seen men like Sashwat’s father who are deep and knowledgeable and at the same time very reclusive and alone and people like Sashwat who constantly analyse themselves and are honest about who they are,” says the author of Tread Softly, her first book.
Although Nandita writes romances, her stories are not just about a couple falling in love and getting married. Her stories are also an exploration of love in mundane and difficult circumstances. In her novels, love triumphs despite the odds. “You can’t get into a relationship or a marriage with pre-conceived notions. You have to grow with every circumstance that comes up in marriage.”
Her characters also portray resilience. Gauri slowly comes to terms with Sashwat’s seven-year-absence and builds a life for herself. “If a person is missing for seven years, he is legally declared dead. Seven years may seem a long time to a reader, but there are people who don’t realise how seven years pass by. There is something unique about Sashwat and Gauri to work on their relationship and make things work out.” Sashwat and Gauri, Nandita says, develop a unique love for each other over time.
“Gauri’s life is made so much better because of the existence of Sashwat. He offered her a better world and resources for her. The closeness they share is pleasant for both of them, yet they don’t know how to handle it or what to say.”
The characters in Nandita’s novels are not black-and-white, but have shades of grey to them. “I care for every character in my book. And I do justice to all of them,” says Nandita who was a former HR consultant and pursued a doctorate in aesthetics from IIT, Bombay.
At a time when categorising books into genres is the norm, is it always pertinent to slot every novel? “Genre encourages copy-cat writing. The publishing world is geared towards this mainstream, straitjacketed writing. But there is a readership for every kind of writing. My novels are neither high literature, nor popular fiction, but there is a readership for it.”
Nandita wrote the basic sketch of The Perfume of Promise in five days. “It was stark, like a play, and it wrote itself out. It took another three to three-and-a-half months to write the second draft. I am not saying it is always all right to write a book within a short span of time, but I don’t believe that the quality of a book improves by the amount of time you take to write it.”
The Perfume of Promise published by LiFi Publications, is priced at Rs. 200.