“And I struggle to find my place in this dark novel. I yearn for passion and despair for that is what makes good literature while Ishwari seeks a life of joy for herself and her son.”
A powerful novel about a woman who runs away from home, seeking to free herself from the shackles of society and familial attachments, and instead devote her attentions to writing a novel. When she realises that her five year old son Roo has followed her, Ishwari struggles with her identity as a mother and the responsibilities that brings, versus the guilty knowledge that she cannot want her own child when his existence requires her to suppress her own dreams.
Ishwari and Roo wander the streets at night, looking for a place to stay, until an elderly caretaker takes pity on them and offers them an empty room on the terrace of a guest house. Ishwari gets work as a caregiver to the handsome gentleman who lives next door, while Roo, who is lame, spends all day locked up in the room on the roof. Pulsating with raw energy, Abandon gives voice to the perpetual conflict between life and art.
A woman arrives alone in Kolkata, taking refuge in a deserted apartment while she waits to undergo an unspecified surgery. In this disorienting city, everything seems new and strange: the pavement-dwellers outside her block, the collective displays of religiosity, the power cuts and alarming acts of arson. Her sense of identity already shaken, when she finds a stained pair of leopard print panties in the otherwise-empty wardrobe she begins to fantasise about their former owner, whose imagined life comes to blur with and overlap her own.
Pairing manic energy with dark eroticism, Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay’s writing has a surreal, feverish quality, slipping between fluid subjects with great stylistic daring. Credited with being the woman who reintroduced hardcore sexuality into Bengali literature, Bandyopadhyay is neither superficial nor sensationalistic, equally concerned with debates on religion and nationhood as with gender and sexuality.