In a world governed by social networking sites, where people visualise each other’s profiles before falling in love, The story of THE JAPANESE WIFE may sound absurd to the present generation.
The story is a thunderclap to the false concept of love that has overtaken the youth of today. The physical aspect of love is totally ruled out in this story.
The Japanese Wife is about Snehamoy Chakrabarti, a teacher in Shonai, and Miyage, a Japanese woman. They fall in love with each other through pen friendship. He is living with his grandmother who is ill. Their letters gain pace and so much they get involved in their relationship through them that they even write their marital vows and start considering themselves as husband and wife. The physical presence is not considered mandatory for falling in love. The twist to the story comes when Mi is struck with a terminal illness and the girl whom he was about to get married arrives with a son after being divorced. Her physical presence makes them come closer but he gains realisation that he is married and he falls back. This particular phase is heart rendering. Twists and turns further take over but we still can’t overrule the platonic relationship that prevails throughout the story.
The book THE JAPANESE WIFE is actually a collection of 13 stories. Most of which advocate the surreal and the unexpected. There is, for example, the story of a man who comes to India to commit suicide and goes on a journey with a snake charmer’s daughter. The writer Kunal Basu has travelled a lot and that is what we find in his writings..places such as Hong Kong, China, Switzerland, Delhi, Agra and the Sunderbans fill his stories. The characters of his story belong to different places and fall together somehow. His stories in this book are a revelation of expecting the unexpected.
However, for a voracious reader only the main story THE JAPANESE WIFE will be of interest for the other stories fall flat after a few starting pages. Be it the story of the Russian prostitute finding her roots with Kolkata revolutionaries or a honeymoon couple caught in the Tiananmen Square unrest.
Only the main story as per which the book is named has gained popularity so much so that the famous Indian filmmaker Aparna Sen even directed a film on this story. Overall a good read.