The Other Side of the Table (A Review)

otherside of table

This is the first book of Madhumita Mukherjee. I came across this book in a blog who had reviewed the book. Also, the blurb of the book looked fascinating to me. I was intrigued by the fact that can a story be told successfully with a series of letters between two persons? I was delighted after I finished the book. It takes us to those days when writing a letter was considered special, personal and worth the wait.  I was transported to those days when I also had a pen-friend (who slowly & sadly, got lost in time).

The book tells about the story of Abhi & Uma in a series of letters they write to each other, expanding from the year 1990 to 1999. Abhi, training to be a neurosurgeon, lived in London & Uma, a student of medicine, in Calcutta. They had an age gap of 10 years between them, but that did not stop them from being close friends. In spite of the gap of age and miles between them they shared everything with each other – what happens in their lives, ask for advice on issues and share their desires and heartbreaks as well. They also argued, cried, fought and laughed through their letters. For each other, they were the pillars of strength and support.

I was charmed with the letters written by the two of them. Sometimes they ended with “take care”, sometimes with “truly yours” sometimes “reply soon” or sometimes “love”. And the last letter written by Abhi was the best and most beautiful of them all. I felt as if I was waiting for this for a long time.

I was a bit out-of-sync with the medical jargons but other than that, for me, the book was an easy read. The myriad of emotions are conveyed with a sense of maturity. We can actually witness the lives of Abhi & Uma growing and changing over the years. One of the best things about the book for me is the feeling of subtleness, without any piece of melodrama.

It’s a lovely & mature story told well. A definite must-read.

Some excerpts from the book that I loved and also made me ponder upon:

“And as I sat there smiling at him, I wanted him to know what I wanted, and then give that to me too. It’s crazy really, what we expect from people. I suspect we girls want the man in our life to be a mind reader and a wish fulfilling fairy godmother, all at once. But we want what we want and I so want to hear those three words….from him. Now, you may say, what’s in a phrase? But hey, there is a world in that phrase.” (Uma)

“ So you want an ‘I love you’……And why not? In this matter, I won’t say what you think I will. I couldn’t. Yes, it is an overused phrase, and often it is used without much meaning attached to it. However, the very first time, said at the right time, by the right person, and in the right way, it still is, and always will be, the only phrase that can stop you in your tracks….. that can, almost, change your life. One moment everything is ordinary and humdrum, and the next moment it’s all transformed. It’s a declaration, an affirmation, a rush-of-blood-to-your-head moment……” (Abhi)

“Is he good enough for me? Me being the most important person in the world (that is to myself). That’s the bottom line Uma. To each of us, we are the centre of the world. The only life that really matters”. (Abhi)

“Sometimes, I just hate “things”. The pleasure we get out of acquiring things is so shallow and short lived”. (Abhi)

“We are all capable of envy, sadly. It gets to us, when we are miserable and weak. We do not have control over stray thoughts that wander into or mind. But we do have control over our actions….”. (Uma)

“After all thise years of caring so much for other people’s opinions, I simply can’t be bothered anymore. Sometimes the urge to take a leap is so strong, you feel you must jump in, without caring whether you will sink or swim”. (Uma)

Image: Goodreads

This review has been submitted as a part of my Indian Quills Challenge 2013 (read about the challenge here)

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