Thirst by Shree Ghatage
By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis
Category: Literary Fiction
Format: Hardcover, 284 pages
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Pub Date: June 5, 2012
Thirst by Shree Ghatage begins as a mysterious narrative about a man whose head injury has inflicted him with amnesia and incited the compassion of a Mr. Owens who decides to take him into his home to provide him with food and lodging until he is well enough to regain his strength and perhaps his memory.
After a few months of living with Mr. Owens and Mr. Owens’ mentally ill daughter, Catherine, he venture back towards London in hope that the city will somehow reveal clues about himself.
What he does discover about himself is a wife by the name of Vasanti, he left behind in India to pursue his ambition to become a barrister of law in England as well as put distance between himself and his estranged father, Nanasahib.
The book at its root is a love story between a couple of an arranged marriage, how one must restrain himself in pursuing a growing affection for the wife he plans to leave in pursuit of his ambition and his pride, and how the other must restrain herself in proper alliance of tradition and propriety.
The narrative is well-written and effortless in its prose, realistic in its descriptions and dialogue, and encourages a tender empathy especially for the character, Visanti who represents an ideal and traditional Indian wife and essentially an innocent, blameless character who becomes a victim to her husband’s foolish pride and poor choices.
Alongside one of the main themes of relationship within marriage, the book is also about the parental relationship: Mr. Owens’ over-extended care for his ill daughter; Vijay’s closeness with his mother and father; and Visanti’s deep loss with the death of her father.
It is also a book about the different forms of thirst: the one found in unrequited love; another in love sheathed in taboo; and yet another that grows out of mutual compatibility and companionship. It is also a story of thirst for acknowledgement as it is about revenge and the burden of responsibility.
Overall, the book is enjoyable to read and the evolution of the relationship between Vijay and Visanti, touching and real. The ending, however, was only disappointing in that I had hoped for a far better outcome than the one that was chosen by Vijay.
At its heart, aside from love is its hurtful pride, which compels the main character Vijay, to make not only poor choices, but becomes the cause of grief to those around him. The loss for the characters in the books becomes an extended form of grief, too, for the reader in his or her empathy for those who could have been saved from disappointment and distraught if it were only for proper insight, humility, and wisdom.
A special thanks to Doubleday Canada and Random House of Canada for providing me with a media copy in exchange for an unpaid and honest review.
If you had to choose between love and responsibility, what would you choose?