“Ebb and flow, ebb and flow, our lives. Is that why we’re fascinated by the steadfastness of stars? The water reaches my calves. I begin the story of the Pleiades, women transformed into birds so Swift and bright that no man could snare them.”
― Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni,
If ever you feel like reading a fiction, that holds within its pages a deep tale, with elements of profoundness, pick Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. Her writing surpasses all, and the stories never fail to grip me. Her earlier books such as Palace of illusions, Oleander Girl and Mistress of Spices, have been bestsellers and portray human relationships and its complexities in a unique way. I wouldn’t put “Before we Visit the Goddess” as her best, as the book did fail on many fronts. However, I loved the depiction of the three women, spanning across generations.
Women who learn to fight their odds
The three women in the book- Sabitri, Bela and Tara are distinctly apart, yet none crumble despite the agony and pain of betrayal they encounter. As relationships fall apart, its pieces are more difficult to gather. These women attempt to find respect and purpose in life, trying to put as much of the pieces back together.
“Before We Visit the Goddess” opens with Sabitri. Frail and stricken with old age, she has never met her American born granddaughter Tara. When Tara decides to drop out of college, on an impulse she begins to pen a letter to her. She writes, detailing her own life, her reminiscences of her past and all that she had endured. She was the daughter of a poor sweet meat -maker in rural Bengal. As a young girl when Sabitri falls in love with a boy from a rich household, little did she realize she would be discarded from her own community. Her life takes a turn when she seeks refuge in a professor whom she eventually marries. Years later, she finds herself yet again staring at an uncertain future, as her husband dies, forcing Sabitri to take charge of life and her daughter Bela.
Hurdles in life require inner strength to overcome
Over the years, life and fate take Sabitri on a roller coaster ride. Bela, haunted by her mother’s choices, flees to America with the one she loved leaving Sabitri to live life alone. But destiny had other plans and Bela is forced to search for her own path. Disconnected from her country and culture, she passes on much more than the bitterness of her life, onto her daughter Tara.
Sabitri is the ambitious and resilient one. Bela is talented and strong willed, despite her lack of an enterprising skill and ambition, one which her mother possessed. Tara, disconnected from her roots, grows into a rebel. Despite the tumultuous relationship with her mother after she throws away an education, she tries to make her own path in life.
Shades of human emotions
Before we visit the Goddess portrays shades of human emotions. Where one’s weakness can pull them down, it is their inner strength that aids in rising above the tide. Sabitri, Bela and Tara, with all their flaws and weaknesses, possess within them an unknown strength, that teaches them to rise above their turmoil and find their way back on shore.
This post is a part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge where I write about twenty six women characters from books, who have left an impact on me. You can read the previous posts here- Women in Books