The very title ‘Dangle’ is, in itself, a bit of a dangle. The talented Sutapa Basu knows exactly what she is doing when she writes a tale that leaves her readers dangling in curiosity, in bewilderment, in excitement and finally, in realization.
Ipshita , the intriguing and vulnerable heroine, hears voices. She is the confident news anchor, but as the story progresses, it is clear that she is a puppet in limbo. There are deft touches throughout that show her harbouring uncertainties, especially with the chance encounters in her life. But life doesn't happen by chance.
Ipshita slowly begins to come across as a scarred soul who carries much baggage. The first hint comes when she opens up her mind a bit and lets go of the first horrific experience back in the past. Little hints come through, as the can of worms is opened out. There are umpteen hints about Ipshita's mind not being at rest, all well expressed. "Something skittered across her mind..." "Whirlpools swirled". "Snakes in her mind" and the like. However, the whole horror is unleashed only much later, as, right through, the reader is allowed only tiny glimpses to whet her curiosity.
Amar Seth, Akash Nag and Steve D'Silva are all men Ipshita is attracted to, under different circumstances. Her parents are keen to get her married, but certain horrific experiences have coloured her own opinion. Marriage to her is akin to being handcuffed.
The one constant in her life is the adorable Aditya Rao. I love the way his character also develops through the story... from being practical and unromantic to keenly sensitive, a poet and Ipshita's Prince Charming. He is instrumental in making her exorcize her demons, as he knows everything that she has gone through. "I think you have finally decided to exorcise the demon that has been haunting you since you were a child." This provides a light at the end of the tunnel.
She decides to visit her sister and her brother in law, Vikram (Viki-da) in Manipur. Life in the Army has been described in loving detail, “a lifestyle of grace and dignity", with terms like Road opening patrol, Army QRTs, jonga, bashas and references to Leimakhong and the INA Museum at Moirang.
It is there that she senses the beauty and the danger in Manipur. "Ipshita was stunned. This means, in Manipur, people are being squeezed like toothpaste; everyone demanded their pieces of silver; for promises of a land flowing with milk and honey offered by both, insurgents and security forces. And all that they want is what ordinary people anywhere want: safety and freedom to make choices."
The author offers an explanation for the title at various levels… there are dangles in every situation that she describes, and as the novel progresses, the reader feels more and more comfortable with the term.
The language used in the book is fluid, the narration masterly, as Ipshita goes through highs and lows, meeting many interesting characters who influence her thinking. What is the secret that she has hidden away deep within her heart? Why does she shut her mind and refuse to allow light to enter? There are many questions that get answered in the course of the book. The twist at the end leaves the reader wondering,
“Were thoughts so strong that they took over your body and emotions?”
Readomania comes out with yet another winner, a book that will leave you in deep thought even after the last word has been read.
Do use the link below to order your copy of 'Dangle'.