There is a sense of hope in the title itself. ‘Her Resurrection’ by Soumyadeep Koley narrates the story of Maya, the girl-child who senses that she is a burden to her parents from the day she was born, but strives to break away from tradition when she decides to study and destroy her fetters.
At boarding school, Maya meets Audra, the Lithuanian girl, who becomes the first friend to “rearrange the broken pieces of her life”. Audra ignites Maya’s thirst for knowledge further, along with a desire to wield a camera some time in life.
Once back home, “no one understood this girl who had small wings, but dreamed and dared to soar high, high up in the limitless skies, beyond the blueness and into the world of stars”.
The patriarchal mindset is rocklike in its inflexibility, and even a sympathetic Kshitij Master, a teacher in the village Primary School, finally washes his hands off her, breaking off her engagement with his son, Shittuppam, as he does not approve of girls being over-educated.
Pune University opens its portals to her as she pursues her Graduation. However, life turns into a living hell for the young girl, as a horrific incident back home, and the indifference of the local police, make her determined to speak out not only for herself, but as “... an ambassador of every woman spanning the globe!”
Her mother stands up, against her alcoholic husband, for her brave daughter, choosing to spend years of her life in a dark cell. Maya is left bereft, and goes to Mumbai with sixty rupees in her pocket, where life gets no better for her as she ends up in a place where “hell and heaven were separated just by five iron rods at the window.”
At various junctures in Maya’s wretched life, a few good Samaritans come in to provide a sense of relief to her – Arjun Singh, the good-hearted police officer, Siddharth who teaches her the rudiments of photography, Damien, her first saviour, and finally the eccentric Dr. Ramasubban, who wins her confidence and seals a pact with her, his only condition being that she has to pen down the story of her chequered life.
Maya’s story is like a rollercoaster, as it hurtles up and down, leaving her in various moods... sometimes determined to break through all the obstacles before her, and at other times leaving her highly suicidal and violent. She always dreams big, but often her past catches up with her, leaving her as helpless as a piece of driftwood caught in a storm. At such times, she is caught up in a deep well of depression and turns away from a world that is cruel and unrelenting.
The essence of the book is contained in the words of Dr. Ramasubban. “Yours is the story of a life, where, in spite of all the trials and tribulations, you didn’t give away your dignity in the end... a life where you have fought for emancipation from the worldly shackles... and redemption of yourself into the society.”
There is deep restraint and beauty in Soumyadeep’s language. Nowhere does his style turn mundane, even at the lowest points of Maya’s life. He turns into a poet at intervals with lines that resonate. “She wanted to hold still the evanescence of the magic of the world, and lose herself... in the golden aura of the floating Diyas, in the wild flower bathed in afternoon shower... and in the changing colours of nature.”
This is a book that could have taken the tortuous path of low worldly passions, but Soumyadeep’s skilful handling of the subject and his sensitive portrayal of his heroine, Maya, make this a beacon of hope in a merciless world.