Book review: ‘Dark circles’ is raw with emotions told in an organised manner

Udayan Mukherjee’s debut novel tells the story of a family as real and ugly as it can get. The debut author doesn’t hold back any information, he doesn’t want you hooked to the story but completely immersed in it. It starts with the last letter from Mala, mother to Ronojoy and Sujoy. Ronojoy, the elder brother gets the letter after his mother’s death, and it derails his already shaky life.

Ronojoy finds himself looking back at his childhood in a new light after reading the new information in the letter. Being the favorite child, he was the closest to his mother. But a few words land like a blow on him. He finds himself a stranger to his mother and much closer to his father. Ronojoy is a practical person and handles the situation in a way any of us would try to.

While Sujoy, opposite of his brother fails to take it lightly and finds himself opening the old wounds. Both the brother questions their parents’ marriage, their relationship and try to figure what it must have been like. While Ronojoy is trying to come to terms with the fact that he is more like his father, Sujoy struggles with his own demons. Questions such as, how to forgive your own Mother? Can you forgive her for loving you less? These thoughts cloud his mind wreaking havoc in his married life.

Through the past of Mala, we see Bengali woman who is educated, plays piano and doesn’t mind sharing her political views. We see a perfect family ruined by mental illness. A single mistake that cannot be undone, unravels everyone’s life.

Mukherjee is not trying to please the readers. This is not happy, everything is a fine story because it’s not the way how it works in real life. Mala is selfish. She commits a mistake and can’t forgive herself. She doesn’t even try, and everyone lives with the consequences. Her children suffer and turn out to be the suffering adults that they are. Ronojoy fails to get close to anyone and Sujoy destroys everything he had built.

‘Dark circles’ is raw with emotions told in an organized manner. It deals with mental illness but doesn’t drown you in it. It gives you a clear view of what life is and how one single decision, a slip in what you consider right wrecks everything. It tells you how you need to look more closely at the relationship you have with the people close to you.
An engaging read, it’s new and worth a read.