A Touching narrative: Saikh Md Sabah Al-Ahmed


When the dynamics of marriage are changing rapidly, ‘cougar relationship’ seems to be the new catchword today that refers to a relationship where a woman is romantically involved with a much younger man, though traditional sensibilities are always in direct conflict with such relationships and yet it happens because love knows no age. Anne Henry’s Robbing the Cradle(1989) is a random pick from this genre with its bold path breaking narrative.

Rupanjali Baruah’s novella A Wayside Story exploring love through a relationship between a young man and a mature older woman is not just a stereotyped run-of-the-mill litany about cradle snatching: It is much more, revealingly stark, sensitive.

A Wayside Story
is set in the exotic locale of the emirate of Dubai where two doppelganger characters, Siddhartha and Minnie meet by providence; a mismatched pair at first go with an age disparity quotient: Minnie, already married belongs to a settled world of nature and instincts while Siddhartha, young, robust dwells in a self - inclusive material world of his own. Yet they somehow try to come together until Siddhartha’s reality of a materialistic-monster gradually surfaces to Minnie’s dismay, punctuating their bond with ‘hyphenated pauses.’ How? Siddhartha takes immodest advantages to become sinfully rich by his reckless bid of squandering every bit from Minnie’s coffer through fake pretences. The dichromatic shades in their age, emotions, culture and upbringing throw them apart; and this is the dreadful reality that Minnie survives through her recollections of days spent in Dubai and her present desolate existence without Siddhartha.

The novella therefore pirouettes between the binaries of ‘now & then’ juxtaposed to show the awareness in Minnie as her reflections ricochet back and forth through all the joyous moments and the following devastation that make her lose all lucidity in life. There are abstract treatments of her psychological states, as on a canvas where incidents and their impressions on Minnie verge on the poetic with verses at the beginning to expand upon the feelings on each page. And the finale is left inconclusive: let us not know whether Siddhartha and Minnie meet again back in India after a violent blast at the airport that separates them though a hope is left lurking that love may happen again.

Rupanjali’s sensibilities as a writer make her carve out characters with silken threads to weave a tapestry of love making A Wayside Story indeed, a touching narrative.