Static at the threshold: Review of Mitra Phukan’s ‘A Monsoon of Music’

a-monsoon-of-music-400x400At a time when uncalled excitements seems to be the trend of most of the new and young writers of the town, Mitra Phukan’s ‘A Monsoon of Music’ is a breath of fresh air with nothing extra in it. With a simple story line and a lucid narrative, Phukan manages to incept the mind of the readers but somewhat failed to keep the trance intact at the end.

26-year-old Nomita (Sarma) is a vocalist who resides in the sleepy Tamulbari town near the world famous Kaziranga (National Park). Music is her soul, her life. She learns music under Sandhya Senapati, her ‘Guruma’ and also teaches school children. A young sitar maestro Kaushik (Kashyap), who is piling on his national and international accolades, proposes her for marriage. The logics and the arguments that the author brings out through the characters is what ‘A Monsoon of Music’ is all about and Phukan indeed struck the right chord. Lucidity is Mitra Phukan’s forte.

Phukan’s characters are suave and intelligent and they take decisions with a thinking brain; and Nomita does the same. She takes time and gives herself space to garner information about Kaushik- the globe trotter sitarist and her potential husband. In her course of understanding more about one-one human relationships before arriving on to ‘the decision’ of her life, Nomita explores and finds more than her expectations. Even though she is known to be an independent soul, yet the meaning freedom of being ‘just for oneself’ was actually never understood by Nomita.

‘A Monsoon of Music’ further delves into the subject of rivalries between contemporaries and the dilemma of choosing what’s right and what’s practical. If on one hand, the relationship between her Guruma and her husband seems perfect for Nomita and she is quite happy to have a marriage proposal from a fellow renowned musician of the modern era, on the flipside though there is an unsaid saga going through her when she is in the company with her friend Rahul- an aspiring IT professional and a music aficionado.

When she is in Rahul’s world, Nomita sways away into the new, rhythmic and foot tapping musical world of her friend. Rahul’s jovialness makes her feel like a free bird, pushing her off the hook of her aspiring career of a classical musician. And when Kaushik entered her life, she felt that life would be easy if two people belonging to the same field start living it together. Even though she shared the same space as Kaushik, yet to accept Kaushik’s world was just not easy at all for her. She tried her best, but yet Rahul was always there to pop up from nowhere and create ripples in her almost perfectly settled life.

It is said that in most cases love remains unsaid and untold and we realise our love for someone very late. This element of love is perfectly used by the author in the novel as she makes the protagonist realise her true love for Rahul in a gradual manner, without making any undue pushovers. Things get smoggier for Nomita when she learns from her Guruma that everything that seems ‘perfect’ may not be perfect at all. Her Guruma reveals to Nomita that prior to marrying her musician husband; she was in love with her industrialist friend. Since both belonged to two different worlds- poles apart to be exact- in quest of a perfect life she married her musician husband. The relationship that the two shares is more of a mutual respect for each other, with love tacking the backseat and everything that seems perfect from the distance is not perfect at all. Nomita’s world topples upside down as she can she her own reflection in her Guruma’s revelation.

So far so good and vivid scenes flashed across my mind thinking about the possible end- which I had thought to be gripping and full of punch. But…alas! A touch disappointed was I as the author somewhat failed to deliver the apt knockout punch that a book like this actually requires.

Phukan raises questions, she points at things. But she fails to provide the tight lid over the holes that she opened. The most fitting of all marriages can actually be the unfitting of all and after showing some glimpses of a not so conventional end, Phukan however decides to stay within the comfort zone. This perhaps is the thin line of difference between what we call as a ‘good book’ and a ‘masterpiece’ and even after having all the ingredients of being one of the masterpieces in English writings, ‘A Monsoon of Music’ falls short by some metres.

  • Publisher: Zubaan – Penguin Books (October 14, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 938101700X
  • ISBN-13: 978-9381017005

– A Review by Partha Prawal

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