Sister of My Heart

Author: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
ISBN: 978-0-552-99767-6

Ha! Where do I start from? I’m overwhelmed by reading this tale. A story of two cousin sisters, a family secret and an entire story of these girls’ lifetime-right from their birth to their motherhood.

It starts with two cousins, Basudha and Anjali as kids, and takes you through their school and college life. How these fatherless kids are brought up with no man in the house and only mothers taking care of everything for them. There is this family secret which is entwined in the story so aptly that you are made to think what happens next. It gives a flavor of suspense too. Sudha is the first one to know the family secret and is taken aback-after all it is related to their fathers and how they died. The guilt takes over her and she becomes more protective of her sister Anju. 
Once the school is over these girls, due to family crisis, have to give up further studies and marry the men their mothers choose for them. The fear of an arranged marriage, the fear of unknown the fear of leaving behind everything you own right from your birth, for one custom called "Marriage". Sudha, in between this process, falls in love with an unknown man whom she has seen just once. They haven’t spoken at all yet Sudha can feel that Ashok is the one she should get married to. But destiny has something else stored in for Sudha. These sisters are so bonded to each other that for one’s happiness the other could go to an extent of sacrificing one’s life. To save Anju’s marriage and the bad name her elopement would bring, Sudha leaves Ashok behind and marries Ramesh-the man the mothers have chosen for her. Both the girls are married on the same day. Anju gets married to Sunil who is an NRI.

Something happens on their wedding day that makes Anju feel that Sunil has fallen for her cousin-Sudha. The pang of jealousy comes into her heart. It’s so strong that she for that very moment hates Sudha-her sister of heart. She herself is amazed to feel this hatred towards the one who she loves the most in the world, but soon enough this feeling is at rest since Anju goes to the US of A and Sudha settles down with Ramesh Sanyal in Bardhaman near Kolkata.
Their marital lives start and they are transformed into women now. The change that they go through, leaving each other at this huge distance, leaving their home behind, their mother’s and the most important part of their lives-their childhood together. The life they have lived each moment and cherished it. Marriage takes them through a roller-coaster ride. Although they are both prepared for being the perfect wives they are not prepared for the pain and agony they will go through in their respective marriages. After 4 years they both are pregnant. Ironically Sudha’s mother-in-law discovers that it’s a baby girl and demands to abort the child. Ramesh, who is not more than a pet nodding in consent with his mother, doesn’t come to Sudha’ s rescue when she needs him the most. And then she calls Anju and these girls finally decide that Sudha needs to return to Kolkata- to their mother’s home. Sudha does the exact thing because she wants to save her child and leaves Ramesh and his house the very same day. Of course she has to bare the repercussions of this act and Ramesh divorces Sudha.

On the other hand, Anju exerts herself and works extra to save some money so that she can bring Sudha to the US where she and her daughter can start a new life. After all, there is no future in Indian society for a divorced woman with a child. In the course of putting extra efforts to earn more money Anju has a miscarriage. Back home, Ashok is still waiting for Sudha and as soon as he knows that her marriage is no more he again comes to Sudha asking for her hand for marriage.

Will Sudha marry Ashok? How does Anju cope with the loss of her unborn child? Does Sudha go to the US with her daughter? Will Anju’s jealousy towards her cousin creep in again?

You have got to read this book for sure. There are places where I really did cry. Especially if you have a sister who you are pretty close to, you will understand what Sudha and Anju go through the entire plot. The way these girls love each other, the way they are ready to do anything and everything, their agony and pain, their happiness entwined with each other’s, the secret which is the history of the family but still peeps into the present and such. Chitra has her own way of spilling the words through pages and weaving the emotions and feelings into them so easily. I liked the way she writes. The title truly suggests what’s inside the book - a story of two sisters of each other’s heart. The story touches every aspect of womanhood - Daughter, sister, friend, lover, wife, daughter-in-law, mother-to-be and mother!

My rating: Go grab it now and read it.
Review by Nu who blogs on books at Bond with Books.

comment 3 comments:

Dr. Chandana Shekar on August 18, 2010 at 1:42 AM said...

okay. shall put this on my book list now. i tend to like female oriented stories. maybe this will be the next one :)

Nu on August 20, 2010 at 10:30 AM said...

Sure..check it out and let me know your views :)

Anonymous said...

what is the family secret? in detail

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