The Edge of Desire, Hachette India (Pages-317), ISBN: 978-93-5009-443-3, Year of release:-2012, Price: – Rs 150.
Reviewed by: Dr Shamenaz, Associate Professor, Deptt of Applied Sciences & Humanities, AIET, Allahabad.
The Edge of Desire is the fourth novel by Tuhin A. Sinha, who is a best selling author, a columnist and the scriptwriter of several popular T.V. shows. It is a great tribute to the womanhood that the novelist has dedicated his book, ‘to every woman who has been a victim of gender crimes in this country that defies umpteen goddesses. Indian has the tradition of worshipping women in the form of Devis or Goddesses but still women have not been given equal status with their male-counterparts. And whenever there is injustice meted out for them, it is the women who always suffer. Sinha seems to be moved by this inequality present in the society and he has responded by writing this novel.
The novel can be termed as a feminist novel because it is based on a woman’s story, who was a victim of rape. Being humiliated badly, she wanted to avenge her rape, and this burning need gave her so much strength that she herself didn’t know, she had. The novel opens with a prologue by the author describing a scene of VIP Cell of Tihar jail where Shruti Ranjan, the protagonist who is aged 33 is sitting inside the confinement. And on the other side in the bookstores of Connaught Place, her image is clearly visible on the cover page of her memoir, which is named as The Edge of Desire. The book is selling like hot cakes because people want to peep into the life of Shruti Ranjan. They want to know about her tumultuous life and struggle of rise and fall from power.
So, it is the story of Shruti Ranjan, who is a journalist by profession and is being deceived in a five years long love-affair by her boyfriend, Abhay and was married to Deputy Commisioner of Kishanganj. But her ill-fate continues and she was brutally raped by politically sheltered local goo, Salim Yadav. It is saga of her crusade against the lawless, criminal-bound situation of Bihar in 90’s.
Although, Shruti Ranjan joins politics to gain justice by letting Salim yadav to be convicted but after coming to power her focus of interest completely changes in just one year. From solely fighting for personal justice for her rape, she became a champion of working for feminist cause and then to taking care of the country’s security. Her role changed so quickly from personal to country’s security. But in this battle she looses her family. Her husband, Rohit Verma, who stood at her side when she starts her battle, also forsakes her, leaving her lonely and solitude. But still she did not lose heart and tried to work not only for feminine causes but also for the security of her country.
In her long drawn struggle, it was Sharad Malviya, who was truly a messiah for her. He acted as a true friend, guide, mentor and companion in her political as well as personal life and made her fully dependent on her through his support. This was what lagging in her husband, Rohit.
The novelist has portrayed the struggle against the commodification of women in the society. Women in the patriarchal constructs are considered as a commodity for the men to enjoy with but Shruti Ranjan, the protagonist of the novel proved it wrong by her deeds. She has set an example for all the women to follow, who keeps silence and does not fight against men if any wrong is done to them.
It is a novel, which has politics in his background as the writer throws lights on the political condition of Bihar in the 90’s. It is a portrayal of Shruti Ranjan’s life, her emotions, her sensitivity, her failure in love-affair, marriage to an unknown person, her adjustments from metro city to a small town, her fear, anger, trust, hopelessness, and after all her courage to fight against the male-dominated society and finally her triumph. He has used some Muslim characters in the story to show the multi-ethnic and multi-religious structure of the Indian society. He has highlighted the caste-based politics of Bihar of that period. He has also highlighted the role of media in handling any incident happening in the country.
Sinha has used simple, clear and lucid language which is easily understood by the readers. He has made an allusion to Hindu religious texts by quoting a shoklya, “Yada yada hi dharmasya, glanir bhavati bharata, abhyutthanam adharmasya, tadatmanam srjamy aham. Mata cha pita twamaev, twamaev bandhu cha sakha twamaev.” By using it, he has shown his belief that God always punishes the evil deeds and this is what the character of Shruti Ranjan signifies that it is good who always win.
It is the story of a solitary woman’s crusade against the age-old customs and norms which holds women to be responsible for all the injustice and inhuman inflicted on her by the men. It was not an easy for Shruti Ranjan to fight against such hierarchy but still she showed the courage to fight and finally by winning against it, she has become a role-model for several women to follow, who likes to keep quite and does not raise their voice against the atrocities done towards them.
Tuhin was depressed by the increasing gender crime against women in India and the death of political leadership in the country so he wrote the novel. He himself has said this in an interview to ibnlive that he has woven these two issues within the format of a commercial fiction novel. He was also inspired by the basic idea of Mahabharata: Can a woman’s humiliation impact the destiny of the nation? And interestingly the bond between his protagonists, Shruti Ranjan and Sharad Malviya, is in a many ways similar to the bond between Draupadi and Krishna. By writing this novel, the novelist wants to give a social message to the society that women are no more a poor mean creature and fight against all odds if injustice is inflicted towards them.