A Home for Urvashi is a delicately woven novel which revolves around various relationships in a lifetime and the afterlife. Sanchali Bhattacharya has come up with strong protagonists and passionate antagonists who are ready to take the extra leap to satisfy their emotions and live up to their relations. Ujjwala, the protagonist is an ambitious lady with a bugging past trying to balance motherhood and climb up the corporate ladder. Her husband Yash is a chef at a cruise liner and stays away most of the time. Trouble begins when Rituraj, a haunting from Ujjwala’s mysterious past takes over as her boss. Unrequited love in the heart of a new recruit Sooraj also creates enough trouble for the two. To top it all, is Dulari, Ujjwala’s twin sister who is a silent observer of her life for the past twenty-nine years, as a not-so-earthly being.
Bhattacharya, in A Home for Urvashi, deals with numerous valuable themes. Ujjwala’s undying love towards her husband broke all barriers of societal norms and led to an unusual union. Sooraj being well aware of her marital status falls for her knowing that these are dangerous paths he was treading on. Dulari’s love for her sister is seen as the sacred bond of sisterhood which remains intact even in the afterworld while Rituraj could never distinguish between true love and lust for his beloved.
The author has hinted on loneliness being a major reason for driving people in taking questionable actions. Yash due to his job lived on the seas for months and years, and this made Ujjwala lonely. For a long time, the readers would be speculating whether her loneliness would drive her to start off an extramarital affair due to her unfulfilled desires; or her love for Yash would defeat all negative feelings. With love, hatred, sarcasm, and jealousy are bound to follow. These are traits that are expressed without hesitation by Rituraj. His kind of love can be best described as a stage of lust driven madness which portrays itself through the most horrific acts of all times.
A Home for Urvashi has a social cause to the story. Ujjwala, apart from work and home front also cared a lot for social causes. She makes donations towards children homes and centers. This shows that she has a very pure soul who could feel ones emptiness and needs without one having to narrate it to her. Her own traumatic childhood had led her to become a compassionate young woman.
Bhattacharya deeply deals in relationship throughout the book. The bonds between a mother and a daughter, or between two sisters, or between a husband and a wife have been beautifully portrayed through practical situations and effective imagery. Nothing has been exaggerated and real life incidents and relations have been reflected in the novel. In fact, the life of many women who work in the corporate field would find resemblance with Ujjwala’s lifestyle. It becomes very difficult for a mother to balance both her child’s upbringing and the work front. This, at times leads a woman to choose one over the other or arrange for alternatives. Ujjwala, hires a trusted nanny for her son but she could still feel the desire that a son would have for a mother, given that his father too was absent for long intervals of time.
If the description of my city from this book had to be presented in the form of a documentary film, it would have scored really high on my mark scale. The vivid descriptions of Kolkata, Darjeeling and Puri , with the right choice of words and imageries appeal to the readers senses. From tourist spots, to market places; from flyovers to traffic congestions; from serene sunrises to the romantic seaside’s, the author is bound to unleash the traveller in you when you read about the places.
Dulari, the friendly ghost and Ujjwala’s twin sister lives on in the ghost world with one unfulfilled desire- to be reborn again and stay close to Ujjwala. But this is not an easy decision. Keeping in mind the advances in Ujjwala’s life, Dulari must make a decision that would reflect her relation towards her sister to the audience. One just need to wait and read on to find out what would be her ultimate decision- Giving up her dream forever to save her sister or to proceed with her dreams of being reborn.
And last but not the least, the name of the novel itself. It is a symbolic summation of Urvashi’s story. Urvashi was one of the most beautiful apsara’s in the court of Lord Indra. But her desire was to live among the mortals and to find a home for herself on Earth. Urvashi’s desires can be reflected through both Ujjwala and Dulari. Dulari because she wanted to break free from the ghost world and reside beside her sister in the mortal world. Ujjwala, because she wanted to find herself a home in the mortal world where no one would chase her and question her of her past decisions. She wanted to be left at peace with her husband and family for the rest of her life.
A thorough read of the book took me around four days and it is a book that I would recommend all my friends to read. However, I would point out that the last hundred or so pages were very quick. A lot of actions took place too quickly in those pages which could have been evenly spaced out throughout the book .Apart from one or two editing glitches, the book is written with complete simplicity and is very easy to comprehend. The concept of it being narrated by a ghost is very unique. But on second thoughts, it might also be a little creepy if I had a ghost spy around me all the time. Nevertheless, it is a brilliant read and reflects how complicated human relations and life can be and how emotions, at the end, make or mar a person.
Disclaimer: I was sent a review copy by @WritersMelon in exchange for an honest review.