From Assam with Love is about all aspects of Assam from the viewpoint of a Proud Assamese.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mitra Phukon's The Collector's Wife


The Collector's Wife the novel



The Collector's Wife by Mitra Phukon is a novel that revolves around the happenings in Assam in the 70s and 80's when the normalcy and spontaneity of life was marred by political insurgency. Rukmini the protagonist of The Collector's Wife  is a part time college lecturer who was very much an on-looker of the situation until she herself was compelled to walk the tight-rope and her own life was exposed to the insurgency. Rukmini being the wife of the DC of a remote state of Assam is on the first hand feels apologetic because  she somehow represent the administration and feels like she needs to justify the acts of administration. On the other hand she is also very much a loner who can neither relate to her husband nor to the commoners.

The story of Mitra Phukon's The Collector's Wife

Rukmini's own life is also tangled by her childlessness. She needs to undergo harrowing time with never-ending tests and physical examinations done by all male gynaecologists. She feels the lack of presence of a woman or a friend or confide in her life. At this stage of mere loneliness she gets a friend in Manoj Mahanta who is mere an acquaintance in her life but shares common background and easy accessibility unlike her dutibound and aloof husband. Proximity to Manoj Mahanta leads to the crux of the novel. She gets pregnant but she was sure that she does not have a physical kind of relationship with Manoj. This aspect is a completely new and modern aspect in the novel. Rukmini prepares herself to part with her husband and at this juncture Manoj mahanta gets kidnapped by ultras. Deeper medical examinations and reports shows her that the biological father of the unborn was Manoj not her husband Siddhartha. Siddartha's character was however build up quite differently and he though not much expressive shows unusual kind of marital camaraderie and also gets ready to parent his wife's child to whom he is not a father. A recluse, workaholic person but he tries to sort out whether he is able to father a child in a strange way by betraying the marital bond with Rukmini.

The quirky end of the Collector's Wife novel shows us the death of both Manoj ans Siddhartha in the same encounter with ultras. Rukmini's concern for the people of the reason, for the families of the dead people and her wish to be one among them thus meets an abrupt halt. The novel ends with this question.

This is not a critique of the Collector's Wife. This article only discuss a common reader's reaction after reading The Collector's Wife'. I find it quite uncanny that the  novel despite being a well-written one could not grab the critic's attention much. Perhaps it was published at a time when books were not discussed in the web world like they are done now. This novel gives you  an enthralling read, some chances to introspect and lots to discuss about Assam.



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