on 19 November 2015
"The Lovers and the Leavers"...it was one of those rare finds, I stumbled upon this book while searching for something else, and the title got me hooked, instantly. It was not like "Whoa!", but like a song going round and round in my head, maybe because of the alliterative aspect of the title, a lilting note, as if carried by the wind. The book is a petite collection of some of the most charming stories I've ever come across. Of course, the best take-away from the book had to be the all-pervasive "three-in-one" indulgence, first the photo, then the poem, finally the prose. It added such a poignant charm to the already poetic world that Abeer Hoque had spun all around, and it was a delight just losing myself in the resultant old-world magic.
The stories are inter-linked, sometimes through characters, sometimes through events or locations, but are standalone gems as well. Since I got to read them all together, in this collection, I savoured the thoughts and feelings even more, as the sense of being overwhelmed never left me as such, the strains carried through from one story to another. The journey was long and winding, through Dhaka, Chennai, Barcelona, USA, etc. and I did not want it to end, as I got more and more glimpses into the lives and times of various characters. So here I am smiling along with Komola at love's doorstep, rushing to Rox's side as she tumbles into watery depths of lust, then running back to shed tears for Alo and poor Kishmish, listening raptly to Shagor's rejection of Modhu, seeing Ila dance with her "makorsha" steps, as spellbound with her as was Oyon and Tahsin, getting high and crashing even lower with Oyon, watching Rox and Arul collide again and again, as if for them, time just keeps turning itself, and then finally sinking my feet in mud and squalor with Gabriel and Pilar...it just goes on and on, all these people, some sure of their ways, some confused and willing to let it be, some wild and reckless, some lost in their sensitivities, all bound together by their own faith.
Hoque's words make her stories extraordinary...the poems, every single one of them touched my heart in so many ways, I read them again and again, some out loud, only to hear how the words would sound as they were spoken, strung together, again like a song with no end. The prose is lyrical, goes without saying, and reading the sentences felt akin to watching a watercolour painting being created, as different colours merged into each other to create the final vision- a true work of art, to savour and applaud. The photos brought in the fun element for me, as each would create a sense of mystery, a prologue in black and white to the story ahead, and when I would grasp fully the photo's significance, it would be my eureka moment, laced with a contented sigh!