Title: The Fourth Woman (and other stories)
Author: Debaprasad Mukherjee
Publication: BluRose Publishers
Pages: 148 ;
Price: Rs 169
The Fourth Woman (and other stories) by Debaprasad Mukherjee takes the readers on a ride of gamut of moods, through his consummately woven stories comprising the flesh and blood characters. This anthology is a treat for those who have profound predilection and insatiable appetite for the category of tales that reflect on the society in its unadulterated version. Each story has a distinct premise, characters and underneath the plot lays a lesson. But mind it! The book does not contain didactic and preachy overtones.The perfectly related title story ‘The Fourth Woman’ renders a gripping beginning to the book. The life of the chief protagonist is encompassed by the prominent presence of three women, who keep reminding him of his incapabilities and insecurities. His boss, wife and the school teacher are the women, who with their constant judgement and preconceived notions decimate his inner equanimity and add chronic suffocation to his life. Some strange occurrences lead to his death and the readers are in for a mystery. ‘The Car Lover’ is another tale leavened with a humane touch. Often we tend to react to a situation in haste and resultantly end in a fiasco. Stereotypes blindsight us to the reality and cloud our perceptions about others. This story sends out a message and thereby realisation dawns upon the readers that they need to introspect and ruminate instead of jumping the gun. The three characters, Avinash, Ranjit Dixit, and Ravi are connected by an incident which comes to a pass umpteen years ago. Thus, the story lays bare subtle human emotions and leaves the readers with some philosophical pondering. As the readers move forward with the following story, ‘Next Prime Minister’, they experience a spurt of positivity and hope in Saila. The struggle of Saila from her slum dwellings to the corridors of politics restores the faith in persistent perseverance. Here, we are aptly reminded of Nepolian Bonaparte who avers that victory belongs to the most persevering. The author chooses to depict the premise of the story realistically and nowhere goes overboard with the success of his protagonist. Continuing with the undercurrent of social message in his subsequent tale, ‘ Happy New Year’, the writer raises some significant questions about fundamental happiness. The conversation between Prashant and Dr. Mithilesh Kulkarni makes the readers understand ‘happiness’ as a relative concept. In order to bring a twist in the flavour of the tales, a smidgen of light-hearted humour is also sprinkled, a sort of the literary device of “comic relief” to which Shakespeare would often take recourse after a poignant episode. Readers feel relieved of the baggage of pathos in the humours tale “The Major and his Beer’. The narrator is an ex-army officer, who presents a rib tickling account of Beer sessions with Major D.S Rathi. The steely bond between the Major and his wife cements our conviction in the sanctity of conjugal allegiance. Love cannot always be roses and hearts, but compatibility and acceptance too play a pivotal role is the home take . As the readers begin to beam with bubbly smiles after the Major’s story, they are introduced to a somber tale of a less celebrated, wannabe famed footballer. The versatility of the author with which he skilfully deals with a medley moods astonishes all. The next story, ‘Old Ten Rupee Note’ delves deep into the human tendency of getting carried away with even a smattering of success and the consequent lose of humility that brings the man from prosperity to adversity as Aristotle alludes to Greek Hubris or Hamartia in his magnum opus “Poetics” A tale of friendship, struggle, humiliation, and success is sketched with a deeply valid message that humility is a virtue which should be cherished at any cost.‘The Manuscript’ another tale gives the readers the feel of a lump in throat. Biprodas Banerjee, an old man who has got a new lease of life after surgery, finds his reason and passion to live with reinvigorated spirits. With immense support from his wife, he comes up with his autobiography. His lessons of life, enshrined in his memoirs gush directly out of his heart with a remarkable spontaneity . What follows is a struggle of a writer to make his work see the light of the day. The author gives credence to the belief that lofty dreams and deep dedication can push a person up to the tallest of a summit . The stories like ‘Kidney’, ‘Bragger’, ‘Thank You Dad’ and ‘Bamboo Thief’ have been woven around delicate human emotions and relationships. The author has a knack of delineating the mayhem raging inside the minds of his characters. He has meticulously packed the stories of melange of flavours with utmost lucidity and simplicity in this literary parcel . His narration flows smoothly without any hiccups. The langue is refreshing and lucid with no ambiguities. The ostentation and floridness in style like those of Augustan age writers Alexander Pope, John Dryden and Samuel Johnson has been painstakingly kept at bay. It is thus a delectable buffet to the book buffs. A parcel of literary pleasure waiting to be delivered at your door step.