Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Guru of Love: Book review

....a Novel by Samrat Upadhyaya

Ramchandra: The main character; a hardworking and struggling teacher and a tutor.
Malati: One of the main characters; a SLC appearing student, immature mother of a daughter, Rachana
Goma: Ramchandra’s wife
Rakesh: ( 9 year old son of Ramchandra & Goma)
Sanu: (13 year old daughter of Ramchandra & Goma)
Mr. & Mrs. Pandey: Parents-in-law of Ramchandra
Ashok: Another tutee
Mr. Sharma: A widower; Ramchandra’s neighbor living in the same courtyard who yearns Malini for lust; works at Government’s Insurance Department
Harish: Son-in-law of Pandeys
Nalini: Goma’s little sister; Harish’s wife.
Malekha Didi: Malati’s step mom
Bandana Miss: Current Principal of Kantipur School
Mr. Tiwari: Late Principal of Kantipur School
Gokul Sir: A teacher at Kantipur School
Shailendra Sir: A History Teacher at Kantipur School
Namita: 10th Grade student; have affair with Shailendra Sir
Malini’s Daughter
Taxi driver: Amrit, father of Rachana who betrayed her mother at the beginning
Kamal: Ramchandra’s tutee with whom Sanu falls in love

Main theme: disastrous and harsh life driven by immense sexual desires.

Summary and Critical thinking

In literature, portraying human realities come ahead of using decorative language. Samrat Upadhyaya’s novel “The Guru of Love” has well illustrated human realities without the use of overly decorative language. This book has plenty of instances to prove how our impulsive decisions sometimes leave us in dire strait.

The main character, Ramchandra, is an honest person relying on his maximum affordability and not more than that. He lives in a rented flat at Jaisideval, Kathmandu with his wife Goma and children: Sanu and Rakesh. By nature he is a quite and understanding person. He is an efficient math teacher at a poorly managed private school.

Ramchandra’s poor economic condition is often criticized by Mr. and Mrs. Pandey, his parents-in-law. They are worried about their daughter’s miserable life. Ramchandra is often treated disrespectfully with some kind of hatred behavior by Pandeys compared to their other son-in-law Harish, a successful businessman. Pandeys offer some financial help to Ramchandra to buy a house but he couldn’t accept it for he knows he wouldn’t be able to pay back such big lump of money.

Ramchandra is very poor and uncontrolled when he enters love and lust. Although having a very beautiful, understanding and a responsible wife, Goma, in his house, he couldn’t control himself entering into an adulterous relationship with one of his tutees, Malati. Goma, his wife by arrange marriage when discovers their affair, at first, lefts Ramchandra and moves to her parents’ large mansion. But after number of requests by Ramchandra she returns to their flat. Very unnaturally and surprisingly, she also demands his mistress, Malati move into their small quarter. Unable to dissuade her, Ramchandra finds his desires and fears living side by side. Malati, already a mother of a daughter, Rachana, after her relationship with Amrit, a taxi-driver who later betrays her, moves into Ramchandra’s flat. Very unusual to see in a Nepali society or, universal may be all around the world, Malati is treated very well, as her own sister by Goma proving far shrewder than she seems. In the very cramply managed quarter, Goma moves to her children’s room whereas Ramchandra shares the bed with Malati.

Later, Ramchandra develops the psychological distance his family making with him. Ultimately, his only escape is to let go of someone he loves. Luckily, Malati patches up with that Taxi Driver, a widower of his wife, and they marry afterwards.

Ramchandra’s daughter Sanu enters into an affair with one his tutees, Kamal, son of a rich bureaucrat. Sanu, having known her relationship discovered by her father, doesn’t bother to face him eye-to-eye. Ramchandra’s bitter story of the past is often reflected in the hatred behavior of his family members. Even Rakesh, once, admits that he would stand in the way if Ramchandra ever tries to hurt his mother. Ramchandra’s past seems to have printed outgoing behavior in his children.

After sonless Mr. and Mrs. Pandey’s death, Goma and her only younger sister Nalini inherit all properties. Nalini accepts to own the lands and that large mansion goes to Goma’s ownership. But they sell the house and commence a beautiful life on the outskirt of the Kathmandu Valley.

The story revolves around a middle class family driven to the state of quizzed and painful emotional crisis due to triangular love affair, lust and financial woes. When human necessities and desires go beyond our affordability they harm us in return. Humans need to confront their conditions considering the affordability, accessibility and social acceptance factors.

Samrat Upadhyaya has explored love, lust and marital relations only at a surface level. Although “The Guru of Love” is a story of contemporary Kathmandu, the Nepali readers may find the book quite unnatural and unsatisfactory. The book gives the impression of hurrying for a stereotypical quick-happy-end. It seems like a book especially written for foreign readers. I felt a kind of betrayal as a Nepali reader.

Rajan Kathet
September 29, 2008


Eternal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eternal said...

I don't excatly agree with your views...Rajan this book is typical nepali story that happens in wht we call "galli galli". I was hooked to this book...and read it in one sitting....
THis is one of the finest book I have ever read...and Samrat Upadhaya who resides in USA is fully capable to show the bitter reality....

Anyways nice review....hope to read more frm you...