I have been a huge fan of Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni ever since I read her first book of short stories, Arranged Marriage. Sister of My Heart and The Palace of Illusions have been amongst my constant favourites among all of her books I’ve read so far.
When ‘Before we visit the Goddess’ was released I looked forward to reading it, the title intriguing me especially.
The book spans three generations of women from the same family, connected by blood but disconnected by distance and misunderstandings.
Sabitri, a strong woman who fights all odds and emerges a winner, or does she?
Sabitri’s daughter, Bela, a problem child who resents her mother and blames her for all the wrongs in her life. Is Bela justified in doing so, or not?
Sabitri’s grand daughter and Bela’s daughter, Tara, Daddy’s Girl who knows nothing about her grandmother and does not want to know her mother. Will Tara regret this distancing?
The men is their lives who keep them apart, knowingly and unknowingly.
From a small village in West Bengal all the way to distant America lives are shattered and the jagged pieces cause wounds that leave scars.
The story and writing seem haphazardly put together, like a patchwork quilt. Sadly the pieces are mismatched and don’t form a pretty picture. The story left me confused, dissatisfied and wondering if CBD had actually written it, or had it ghost written. I could not connect the title to the story either. This book lacks CBD’s trademark eloquent prose that connects you to her writing.
Here’s hoping that CBD was having a one off, after a constant string of best sellers, and is going to be back again with a bang. Soon.
I would like to admit, this book seemed very emotionally overwhelming in places, so much so that I needed to keep it aside for a bit, compose myself and resume reading it.
The question this book made me ask myself was, if we’ve believed, and continued believing ideologies fed to us without any proof of their claims, why not believe someone who has proof of coming back to life and healing herself?
It helps that Moorjani uses a neutral narrative, not putting down any religion or perspective and/or propping up her own instead and only shares her experience, her insights and the results of the changes she made in her life post her NDE, all which seem practical and achievable. The simple writing makes it an easy read, and reading it felt like I was listening to a friend.