Title: The Saga of Shom and Raima
Author: Tapan Ghosh
Genre: Contemporary Romance
First Publication: 2020
Major Characters: Suman Bhatia aka Shom, Raima Sengupta, Harry, Khush
Narrator: Third person omniscient
Bombay boy Shom leads a double existence. Suman Bhatia in real life, marital pressures and work responsibilities have pushed him to seek another life as Shom. In this avatar, he meets Raima Sengupta in a Facebook chat. When they meet, he discovers that she is much younger, but like him, craving intellectual stimulation and freedom from restrictive social norms.
Raima is a victim of a difficult childhood. After losing her father at the age of three, she assumes charge of her ailing mother. Brought up by her maternal aunt, as a teenager, she fends off a sexual assault from her lecherous uncle. Now in her 20s, she withstands family pressure to marry since she feels committed to Shom, a married man himself. Both agree that despite the compatibility between them, they must remain faceless to balance their relationship with social and professional responsibilities. This seems to be the only way out.
Guiding them is their friend, philosopher and guide Harry. Much older, Harry has come a long way. From modest beginnings in post-colonial Calcutta where the liberal culture of the Anglo-Indians left a deep impression on his mind, to the high jinks of the SoBo set in Bombay, he has seen it all. Equipping himself with an engineering degree and setting up a manufacturing concern along the way, his life has been an unqualified success. But there is more to his persona. A risk-taker, he has always flirted with life and partaken of all the experiences it has to offer.
Despite the lows that have followed the highs, Harry has kept going. Often described as a love guru, he has been free with his take on love and life that his friends seek. Be it his business partner Khush or the eternal soulmates Shom and Raima, Harry has offered himself unconditionally to the people he cares for. As he says, a relationship is an attachment, but love is unconditional and free.
The rollercoaster ride of a life these characters go through has all the makings of a saga. The saga of Shom and Raima, with Harry playing the éminence grise.
Book Review: The Saga of Shom and Raima by Tapan Ghosh
While The Saga of Shom and Raima by Tapan Ghosh a typical love story involving a man discovering the woman of his dreams, the real weight of the entire plot lay in the last few pages. It lays a big emphasis on human choices when things go wrong. Most times, we humans tend to get carried away especially when the going is good. When it gets tough is what determines who we really are on the inside. It was sweet and cute at the beginning, romantic in the middle, agonizing at the near-end, and hopeful at the ending.
This story follows a married guy Suman Bhatia (Shom), a socially-awkward, deeply burdened under the pressure of marriage and work. In a Facebook chat, he meets Raima Sengupta, a much younger girl. Without giving away too much of the plot, I will say that both characters grow tremendously though out the course of this novel.
Their friend Harry helps them in most difficult times. He’s an observer, introspective, intelligent guy. He is entirely selfless and kind to everyone he comes across. Harry is attempting his best to navigate Shom and Raima around uncharted territory. Harry was such an amazing character and one that I truly cherish. This is a character to whom so many people can resonate with, altering on different levels.
What I loved most about this novel is how well Shom and Raima handled their relationship. They make their relationship clear through their actions – their casual banter, remembered food preferences, shared memories – rather than just telling us they are in love. Author Tapan Ghosh spends the time to establish their relationship for the reader to see before truly pressing the romantic angle. As a result, I could easily feel their angst and confusion along with them, and grin and sigh when it all comes together. The romance is sure to please, packed with delicious amounts of tension filled scenes.
Tapan Ghosh has a gift for writing beautiful and unconventional love stories. His characters feel vibrant, energetic, quirky, and rich in emotion. The author describes a whole host of secondary characters and they are painted with their own flaws and positive attributes in a very realistic way. With a slowly and deliciously unravelling story, we don’t ever get a huge background dump with any of the characters, instead their lives, secrets and issues are gradually introduced.
The way this story is mapped out and how it gradually unfolds is incredibly creative. Every word used is carefully selected and holds an importance that will eventually be revealed. Even the subtleties will ultimately tie into the final grand picture. This is obviously no easy feat for a writer, but I must admit that it came across as graceful and entirely effortless. One of my favorite aspects of this story was the ease of the dialogue and how truly natural and real it all felt. Highly recommended.