Author Sabarna Roy is a trained Civil Engineer and graduated with a First Class Honours Civil Engineering Degree from Jadavpur University in 1988. He is presently working as Senior Vice President and is in the 26th year of his employment with Electrosteel Group.
Sabarna Roy is the author of seven critically acclaimed bestselling books: Pentacles, Frosted Glass, Abyss, Winter Poems, Random Subterranean Mosaic: 2012 – 2018, Etchings of the First Quarter of 2020, and Fractured Mosaic. A civil engineer by profession, Roy spends his time on books, music, movies and international television series, when he is not writing or at work in an engineering-manufacturing organization in Kolkata. With no love for pets or gardening (although he loves forests and wildlife) or socializing, and a lot of time for introspection and deep (and not-so-deep!) thinking, Roy’s works reflect his views on the global order and individuals striving to find their place in it.
He has been awarded the Literoma Laureate Award in 2019, Literoma Star Achiever Award 2020, Random Subterranean Mosaic: 2012 – 2018 won the best book of the year 2019, the A List Award for excellence in fiction by the NewsX Media House, Certificate for The Real Super Heroes for spreading a spirit of positivity and hope during the COVID-19 Pandemic from Forever Star India Award 2020, and the Certificate for Participation in the Indo Russian Friendship Celebration 2020, the Literoma Golden Star Award 2020: Lifetime Achievement, and the Certificate of Appreciation for featuring in the Hall of Fame of Literoma International Symposium on Literature & Festival 2020, and the Times Eminent Writer of the Year award by The Times of India Group in Kolkata in February 2021.
Sabarna is one of the winners of the Champions of Change 2020 Award given out by Interactive Forum on Indian Economy supported by Government of India.
Sabarna is one of the recipients of Economic Times News Makers 2021 (Eastern Region), Top 10 Most Influential Business Leaders of 2021 given out by Business World and ANI in association with the Indian Alert and Times Excellence Award 2021 in Indian Literature given out by the Times Group, and Professional Excellence Award in the Aqua Excellence Award 2021 given out by the Aqua Foundation.
TBE: Can you share with us something about your latest book, “A Marriage, an Affair, and a Friendship”, that isn’t in the blurb?
Author Sabarna Roy: A Marriage, an Affair, and a Friendship is a crisp, fast paced cocktail of different perspectives of an open marriage told from the point of view of Rahul, Paromita, his wife, Suroma, the ‘other’ woman, and Samaresh, the ‘silent’ eager paramour. The narration weaves in and out of their points of view as they are confronted with different challenges, including the moral judgement of their sons, Proloy and Ratul.
TBE: Your book deals with a very sensitive subject matter exploring the complexities of a marriage. What made you want to tell this particular story? How did the idea for this book spark?
AUthor Sabarna Roy: My belief is, in the post-modern age with 360-degree intervention of technology, the boundaries created by marriages will become redundant. Secondly, in the urban milieu, as women are getting more and more empowered because of economic independence, the traditional structure of marriages will not succeed. Marriages succeed on sustenance of monogamy which is itself a false idea. According to the iconic anthropologist Desmond Morris, men and women are naturally polygamous and polyandrous, respectively.
It is the moral code of the civil society that has built up over ages through institutions that restrict our actions in a stifling manner. It is with this ethos in mind that I planned to write this book, which would depict the various contours of a marriage, an affair, and a friendship intermingling with each other. I believe this is the future if the human race has to survive peacefully.
TBE: In the relationship between Rahul and Paromita, they are both relatively equal. Much of their relationship in the novel consists of the inside/outside struggle of wanting what you want for your relationships, but not quite being able to ignore societal wants as well. Is this something you see often—the battle between what is traditional and personal desires?
Sabarna Roy: This I have more or less answered in my answer to question number 2. However, I would like to remind you that human beings, with the help of technology and capital, can become more individualistic than ever before. This will be a root cause of explosion of communal traditions.
TBE: When we meet Suroma and we quickly learn that she’s a highly independent woman, a fighter both literally and figuratively, and very sure of herself. There are a lot of things that marriage doesn’t always bring, like happiness, or honesty, or children. In some ways, the story begins with the threat of the broken marriage. Why did you decide to start here?
Sabarna Roy: Marriages force people to stay together and cohabit under one roof for years together. Familiarity in all kinds of relationships breeds contempt and kills imagination, innovation, and intuition in tackling individuals involved in the relationships. Happy marriages exist on the bedrock of extreme tragic sacrifices of individuals involved, which mostly go untold.
TBE: One of the most poignant aspects of Rahul and Paromita’s story is that they loved each other deeply, and yet, their marriage is at the brink of shattering. A marriage can be tested, can fall apart for reasons big and small, despite the couple still loving each other. What did you hope to explore?
Sabarna Roy: It is not love that keeps a marriage ticking. It is tact and killing of your personal desires that keeps marriages rocking.
TBE: Well, whatever magic you worked in your writing process definitely worked, because this book is amazing. I think my favorite thing about this story was the idea of an open marriage in a modernist setting. This couple is going through a rough patch, even if they were very much in love. How does the couple’s relationship change?
Author Sabarna Roy: Suroma, who started this relationship with the confidence that she could stay detached, is confused to find that she cares for Rahul. She had assured him at the start that it was a transactional relationship and that she was going to raise a child by herself. She wonders if it is going to stay that way. It takes a village to raise a child, and she has to form her own village.
Samaresh sees Paromita’s anguish at Proloy’s departure. Should he have gone looking for Proloy and dragged him back to his mother? How much should he interfere in this conflict? After so many years of longing for Paromita, what is left for him? Will he draw up the dregs or rekindle a fresh stream? It does not matter to him as long as he doesn’t lose Paromita as a friend, a companion.
Paromita has the ability to switch off from events in her life and plunge into her work. At least at work, she can contribute and see the positive results of her efforts. The week after Proloy leaves the house, she travels into the rural districts on work and invites Samaresh to accompany her. Does she feel better that she exercises her choice of partners away from the city and the bourgeoisie conventions and expectations that dog her every step? Is she expected to feel the same amount of passion for each man? It seems quite exhausting. She is dogged by resentment that Rahul has in an indirect way forced this lifestyle on them. She sees it as a betrayal of their comfortable status quo. And she does not want to lose the relationship she has with her sons. She has spent more time with them than with Rahul. Their trust and faith in her have eroded. They are young. Isn’t it their life that should matter to her?
Rahul admits he turned his family life around on its head. He wonders if Paromita is following a script that she has written for herself just to try out and sign up to his point of view. Or if she had also thought about straying and grabbed at the lifeline he threw into her life of matrimonial expectations. What are Suroma’s expectations of him? If Suroma decides the show is over, he will have to go back to life before Suroma. But that would be hard on him. He has got used to the youthful exuberance of Suroma, the unconventional life she leads, her relentless dependence on her own abilities. To think that he started this whole stream of events, shouldn’t he have all the answers? Instead, he is the one who has so many questions…
TBE: What is the one of the main ways that most people sabotage joy in marriage? What advice would you give newly married couples?
Sabarna Roy: The institution of marriage was built to smoothen inheritance laws in a patriarchal society. A simple telling of individual truth can sabotage the joy in marriage. Marriages are fragile by nature. Yet tough to break because the contract of marriage is sealed by the Nation-state.
Frankly, I have no advice to give to newly married couples.
TBE: How was your publishing journey with Leadstart?
Sabarna Roy: My publishing journey with Leadstart has been fantastic.
TBE: Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers?
Sabarna Roy: I am currently working on an epistolary novel, which is based on a ballad titled: Tara, written in 2009, and this was published in my first book, Pentacles. In the ballad, Tara and Sandy, who are high schoolmates, meet at the Delhi Airport after 26 years of leaving the high school. In the novel, Tara and Sandy start writing to each other letters after 12 years of having met at the Delhi Airport. The manuscript is likely to be completed by the middle of this year and will go for publication by the winter of 2022-23.