For mankind reproduction is a biological necessity. For womankind procreation is power of creativity which they are inherently endowed with. Therefore, for a woman to feel complete, bearing the fetus in her womb, is not simply an advantage that her body is physiologically carved out for, but it is something as critical as breathing, because from time immemorial she is conditioned to identify herself with the act of mothering a child. Thereon it naturally follows that for a woman cursed to be barren is more than a medical issue, it is an identity crisis that she is not attuned to cope with easily.
Blurb: Gifted with a loving husband, a doting mother-in-law, a confiding sister-in-law, beautiful and intelligent Mayuri could have been the most contented person on Earth. Yet, the fact that even after four years of most satiating conjugal life, she is unable to bear a child is killing her. Obsessed to prove to the world that she is not barren, she repeatedly subjects her body to the most painful fertility treatments, takes to bizarre religious rituals and almost crosses the bounds of fidelity in the hope of getting pregnant. Is there a way by which Mayuri can get over her obsession and find real happiness within and without?
My Take: “Thicker Than Blood” revolves around Mayuri’s dilemma, disquiet and disappointment not only with her own self but also with the medicos who treat women with such gynecological problems as just another case in hand. The lack of personal touch, sympathy, support and care that women like Mayuri desperately need not only from her near and dear ones but also from the attending physicians, drag them deeper into abysmal state of depression and acute inferiority complex. How such psychosomatic afflictions, in turn, have cascading effects on a woman’s marital relation, family life and behavioural patterns, are lucidly brought out in this novel.
Nevertheless, Mayuri rises like a Phoenix from the ashes charged with the “dignity of a doer” and touches vaster horizons reinforcing love and trust in humanity.
“Thicker Than Blood” is not merely the story of a childless woman wallowing in self-pity, it is the timeless tale of untiring diligence of (wo)mankind to grow stronger and braver in adversity and evolve into a kinder and greater human being.
The Narrative: I have always been attracted to Munmun Ghosh’s distinctive narration, single-minded attention to the plot, linear progression of the story-line, smooth flow and sharpness of language. “Thicker Than Blood” is her third-born. Compared to “Unhooked” her second-born, this novel is simpler, more straightforward, less controversial (if I may add) and addresses the issues at hand head on.
Characterization: Munmun does not allow too many characters to congest her narration. The milieu is predominantly urban and extremely relatable. The confident story telling emanates from firm footing on known turf. Munmun knows what she is talking about. The one thing that stands apart is the protagonist’s steady graduation from a self-centered and self-censuring housewife to a home-maker with an expansive vision and all-embracing heart. Needless to say that the authoress excels in woman-centric issues yet does not confine herself to the stringent boundaries of any ism.
Evaluation: Notwithstanding the predictability of story-line, the read is engaging since the focus is not on what happens next but how it happens. How the hearts and minds change with shifts in scenario and onslaught of grief. How strangers come closer and intimacies are distanced. How self-created isolation is tapered by broadening the base of interactions and sharpening interpersonal skills.
Some interesting quotes from the book:
“And motherhood as I had come to realize was all about nurturing, not just carrying a baby in one’s uterus for nine months.”
“And then it occurred to me that if either of us had to be found to be lacking, would I rather be the one with the problem than him? If I truly loved Vimal with the intensity I claimed, I would wish to shoulder the blame and spare him. Did I feel that way? How deep did my love for him go? Could it transcend self-love?”
“But now, lying with my own unshared sorrow, I acknowledged that finally I was alone like he was alone. Like every human was alone in their thoughts. Even stretched so close to me, his knee touching mine, he was not aware that I was shattering from within, the doll having smashed into smithereens on the floor. He was lost in sleep. There was no complete union between a man and a woman, the reason why we needed to mate again and again. In that thought-submerging deluge of intimacy, you felt you became one with the other, but the moment inevitably folded up and you had to accept your separateness.”
“Could one control the millions of thoughts that overran one’s mind every day and sometimes lodged in the subconscious? Did dreaming about another partner amount to infidelity? Had Vimal never fantasized about any other woman?”
“Desire when it is unmentioned has an irresistible pull and glitter. I revelled in the sense of being loved by a new man. Basically, I was so secure in my marriage, so sure of my feelings for Vimal that I could engage with Shreyas freely, unafraid of getting truly involved.”
I enjoyed reading “Thicker Than Blood” and particularly recommend the book for couple-reading for forging a stronger and thicker bond keyed on mutual understanding, care and faith.
About The Authoress: Munmun Ghosh is a Mumbai based writer passionately in love with the written words. She unwinds with music and believes in creating beauty, benefit and value and can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org.