By Avinash Kaushik
When she looked up again at the sky, there were spectacular ribbons of glorious colour. The vision touched her soul instantaneously and she was overcome with a sense of utmost bliss. In that fleeting moment, she perceived something greater than her life. All her fears, frustrations, greed, guilt, suspiciousness and self pity vaporized away from her being. And for the first time in her life, she experienced the lightness of liberation. — Nilakshi Borgohain
Nilakshi Borgohain has a flare for writing and especially I was unable to put down Life’s Beautiful Days until I had completed it. After reading her earlier writings which include the Streets of Fear, Rhythms of Life and Waltz in Happiness, all her creations are true reflections of the realities of the society and this is the reason, I pine for Borgohain’s novels, which are set on Indian real life background. Her latest gem, Life’s Beautiful Days, is no exception.
Borgohain’s writing encompasses rich character development and explores the kind of thematic content that tugs on your heartstrings — love, loss and personal growth.
Interestingly, the author had never tried to give a name to the orphan girl and addressed her symbolically as “she” throughout the novel, nor even addressed once by name by her close friend “Alice”. It depicts an unnamed female character that suffered neglect and abuse in the street with numerous such unnamed souls on philosophical terms.
Only after the intervention of a CSR activity finds a shelter for this little soul with a decent environment but without a loving family. The story unfolds through chapters set in the novel without an identity of the main character which is quite realistic because “She” was suffering from identity crisis in her own words, “You are all going to recognize me as your equal. And treat me as one of you ‘she muttered, the very first day she stepped into hostel,” I promise.”
So a name to the character would have been unsuitable on philosophical terms because when we see a name we draw conclusions about a variety of characteristics, including demographics. But in this case when I read the novel a sense of sympathy is raised out to the emotionally damaged small orphan girl child in the first chapters of the novel and the writer is successful in narrating the story in a lucid manner using the best words such that readers can draw their own picture of imagination. Alice looks after her emotions as a friend, even looks at her emphatically when troubled childhood is reflected in the character in anger or sadness.
When her downfall is like a criminal despite being a successful lawyer, deceiving her unsuspecting best friend Alice and caught by another friend whom she met during her trip abroad has reflected the true picture of our present day society through the words “Power has snatched the last vestige of decorum from you, totally shamed you. I am sorry, I came back for you.”
I call it the self-realisation book, but really it’s a book about discovering one self. She hits every point on the possible spectrum of life, from the best moment of life to the worst, from the worst mental state to the best realisation state.
Of course I’d be careless not to note that ‘Life’s Beautiful Days’ is also a story of other remarkable women-Alice, who comes from the other side of society. In the words of the author, “It is a story of her triumph against the numerous ordeals life confronts her with, of her resilience and of her infinite capacity to love.”
The author has lived a life quite familiar to the corporate world of Indian narrow professionalism for a long time, and as a reader I have found familiarity and readers always like familiarity in a novel, who yearns for images of stealing a manuscript, compulsion to remain one step ahead in the competition thereby missing the small pleasures of life. I’m certainly grateful for Borgohain’s natural, inspirational habitat in the novel.
Beautiful Day invites emotional investment in these characters, storylines, and of course, knowledge leads her to achieve excellence in her profession, wisdom unshackles to find herself.
Borgohain isn’t sugarcoating anything in this read but she delicately and tastefully illustrates a realistic shade of realism in philosophical terms, these objects are ontologically independent of someone’s conceptual scheme, perceptions, linguistic practices, beliefs, etc through the characters she had created. Even her dedication of the book is worthy of mention: “To every reader, everywhere ‘which I finished in my flight from New York to New Delhi.”