The Sinful Silence (Book Review)

“This is something bigger than our imagination. Something is terribly wrong. I can smell it, but can’t see.”

~The Sinful Silence by Abir Mukherjee

True to its most famous line, the book “The Sinful Silence” by Abir Mukherjee is a highly mysterious, mind-blowing thriller and an incredible story that’s beyond our wildest imagination.

What appears to be an open and shut case, turns incredibly mysterious and increasingly baffling when the rookie IPS officer Vayu Iyer smells foul play in the murder of an eminent businesswoman and yet the entire Police Department can’t find a single trace.

The more they try to reach a conclusion, the more lost they feel in the open-ended suspect pool. With the zeal of a dedicated IPS officer, Vayu follows every lead to capture the murderer of Mrs. Shanaya Mehta but meets with a dead end every single time. To make things worse, his journey becomes harder under the supervision of DCP Abhimanyu, whom we know as the handsome, powerful and honest officer from the prequel. 

However, we meet a completely different Abhimanyu in this book. For one thing, he has lost all his charms, which had once mesmerized his beloved Ahi, and has turned into a grumpy drug-addict. And to top it all, he now plays the role of a corrupt officer who is on a killing spree to avenge the murder of his fiancé, pitted against a powerful crime-syndicate. He is still incredibly powerful, but in a highly destructive way.

Thus, two tales drive the plot of the book and it is the oscillation between the two stories that makes it hard to keep our eyes, minds and hands off the book. On one hand, it narrates Vayu’s quest for the truth and on the other, it relates Abhimanyu’s mission to avenge his loss while the entire journey takes us through the midst of several twisted relationships and unexpected revelations.

“Sometimes, a lie is the best decision that ensures sanity and peace in our future life.”

~The Sinful Silence by Abir Mukherjee
Book: The Sinful Silence
Author: Abir Mukherjee
Photographer: Sanchari Das

Serving as the sequel to our talented author, Abir Mukherjee‘s spine-chilling thriller “Sin is the New Love”, this book tends to raise the bar quite high, not only with its amazing storyline but also with its meticulous twists, remarkable depth and wonderful writing style. The amalgamation is sure to leave the readers spellbound and hooked on it till the last line.

The book has everything from psychology to art, from murder to love, from humour to agony, from betrayal to hope and most importantly, from the curtains of secrets to the light of truth. It’s an amalgamation of emotion and logic, crime and justice, love and despise, truth and morality. There is simply no right or wrong in this tale; if anything, the story is the perfect portrayal of the circumstances as the biggest criminal and time as the cruelest murderer.

Towards the end, the book brings out how sinful silence can be. Hidden scars, dark secrets and spiteful silence can play with our minds, kill our hearts and even take our life. But then again, the same silence screams to call out the hidden scars and ultimately lifts the curtains off those deep secrets, revealing the truth in the most astonishing way. But only a true artist can see through the darkness and discover the sparkling light of the truth like no one else. And if crime is an art, so is the talent to crack through the mystery.

The ending leaves the readers yearning for more and the twisty epilogue promises another sequel to the story with its unexpected revelation. Also, several other tiny mysteries are deliberately left unsolved even as the book comes to an end. The author employs this technique not just to heighten the suspense and intensify our desire as we anxiouly wait to unfold the mystery but also to hint at the upcoming sequel, even if the main plot doesn’t end with a cliffhanger.

“The Sinful Silence” by Abir Mukherjee is not simply an action-packed story or a murder mystery or a psychological thriller, but it’s a journey into the inner recesses of the human mind. The book meticulously explores the dark passages of the helpless heart that desperately holds onto thousands of secrets, until one day the sinful silence turns against its keepers and screams to proclaim its existence. So loud is the scream of silence that it unleashes the disastrous storm and overturns the superficial world created by the dust of faulty principles. “The Sinful Silence” is nothing but a silent witness to the exclusive phenomenon.

“Life had taught me that when everything seems like cakewalk, it’s just an advent song of a brutal and gloomy devil.”

~The Sinful Silence by Abir Mukherjee

Burn Out: A Story of a Long Awaited Closure

It’s strange how our minds work.

It holds onto such deep emotions, without us even knowing it: fears and rage, panic and frustrations, regrets and resentments…

And sometimes even onto the horrors of an unfinished affair from the past…

My mind has been holding onto a traumatic experience of the past that I didn’t even know existed. But it was strong enough to paint my fears and colour my dreams in the darkest hue.

It’s strange how something so bright can have such dark layers hidden underneath.

But the episode isn’t traumatic because it’s extremely scary. It’s because the incident never saw the dawn of a closure.

Be it a relationship or an experience, a closure is very necessary to savour that feeling of the emotional ride being, at last, resolved. It’s very important for us to see the end of a mayhem, no matter how horrific it is.

But my fiery trauma never attained its burn out.

It just kept burning inside me… until another incident one fateful night…

How it Began?

Strange as it may sound, it began funny!

Have you ever caught yourself in one of those situations where you utter—“Nothing ever happens here!” And then bam! A few moments later something terrible happens, and you are like: “That’s not what I meant!”

Yeah, it started something like that. And believe me, it was terrifying…

So, what happened was: I heard a noise in the middle of the night. I got out of my bed and ran to the window to check what it was. I thought that it was perhaps a thief trying to break in through a window; and I imagined myself as the brave adventurous detective who would catch him red-handed.

(I have been reading too much of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series lately!)

It obviously turned out to be as simple as water falling on some metallic object. There was no thief; I was no detective or even an adventurer. It was just raining outside.

It was then that I found myself uttering those dreadful words—“Nothing ever happens here!” (Although, now that I look back, I see there were tons of time when some “things” really happened here; but that’s the story for another time!)

So, disappointed I returned to room and went back to reading the Famous Five book I was hooked on earlier.

An hour or so passed by. I was at an interesting part on the book when I heard my mother shout from the next room. She was asking me to come out.

She has spotted some black smokes in the sky…

As I heard her, I threw my book away, jumped out of my bed and ran to the window. Sure enough, there were smokes fuming up into the sky. But they weren’t just black anymore. An orange hue has already accompanied it—yes, it’s a fire break-out!

And it’s terrifying…

Fire Terrifies Me!

Fire terrifies me.

The reason I don’t spend much time cooking in the kitchen… the reason I don’t strike a matchstick… the reason I don’t burst crackers at Diwali… the reason I hold a candle with greatest difficulty: I am scared of the flame.

And yet there it was—the orange flame, blazing up the night sky.

We saw it raging like a wild cat above our head. We saw it bright and clear as we shot up the stairs to the terrace.

“Call the Fire Brigade!” I shout. No one responds. Their eyes are all glued to the blazing glow.

“Do something for God’s sake!” I cry. My eyes too stand hypnotised by the violent dance of the fire.

And then suddenly, a childhood memory flashes before my eyes…

A Haunting Past

Siliguri, 2002: The Mahananda Bridge is on fire.

It was the time of my evening lessons. I sat with my father to study. My mother was in the next room teaching her students. We suddenly hear an ear-shattering noise. And then, the sky turned orange.

We rushed to the terrace—it was a fire.

The underground oil pipe that ran from some place in Assam to Siliguri had suffered a leakage just near the Mahananda Bridge. And perhaps there was a lit matchstick around somewhere that instigated a fire. The leaked oil caught the fire and kept burning until the entire pipe burst open. And then, all the oil in the pipe jumped up like fountains, adding fuel to fire, until the entire area was set ablaze.

The past still haunts me.

I could hear the shouts of people. I could taste the panic. I could feel my heart thumping loudly against my chest. I found it hard to breathe, even with my mouth wide open.

I can still remember the dreadful night. I was sent to bed while the fire still raged at the bridge. But I couldn’t sleep. The image of the fire flashed before my eyes every time I tried to close them.

It wasn’t a pretty sight.

It took the fire brigade an entire night to bring down the fire. No one was hurt. Quick measures had saved thousands of people from getting burnt that day. Everything was fine in the morning. But for me, it was never the same again.

I was just a kid back then; but I knew what fire meant: Death.

The Dance of Death from the Cover of “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak

And that knowledge was terrifying enough…

Back to the Story!

My mother’s voice brought me back from the frightening reverie.

We ran down the stairs to wake everybody in the building with our violent ruckus. Unable to contain our excitement, we all rushed out to the streets together.

We raced across the streets… Still in our nightwear. Our hairs dishevelled. Face unmasked. Phone in hand—ready to call for help if we find our voice back.

We hurried towards the gate—checking every building on our sides for any signs of fire as we go along; ready to howl if we catch the sight of a burning building. None was.

The fire didn’t strike our housing complex.

But still, it was fire: caught in the trees, just a few meters away from our complex.

We could see the dance of its flames as we reached the gate. We could see its orange reflection upon the opposite walls. We could feel the heat upon our trembling body.

People have crowded in the open space, unable to remove their eyes from the all-consuming flames. We came and joined them. Dad went over to enquire about the situation. I held tight onto my mom’s arms.

I felt numb: With fear; with the terrifying memory of the past; with the rising thoughts of death.

Dad came back. The fire brigade has been called. They came soon enough. We heard their bells. And the fire began to subdue under their pressure.

Again, no one was hurt. But the fire was terrifying enough.

And I suddenly found my knees giving up under me. And I kneeled down on the ground. I was a little relieved, maybe. At least, we aren’t going to die. Not today, at least.

Mom hauled me up. She asked us to return home, now that the excitement was over. But I wanted to stay. Stay and watch the last dance of fire. Stay and watch the deadly fire end in ashes. Stay and watch our victory over the devastating fire.

But I was dragged along. The “show” was over. It was time to go home. There was nothing more to watch—for them, of course.

For me, it was far from over.

Still, I trotted on behind them. Time and again, I looked back to see the end, even from afar. But the black smoke and orange hue still scarred the horizon.

The Long Awaited Closure

Morning was near, but it was still dark outside. The sky was black. And so was my heart.

I didn’t get to see the end of this fire. Neither was I allowed to see the end of that Siliguri fire, some 20 years back. I never saw the end of those terrifying dreams of aeroplanes crashing and bursting into flames.

It was as if I never woke up from those nightmares…

I couldn’t sleep that night. Or what was left of the night. The wild dance of the orange flames flashed before my eyes. The image was so vivid. Yet, it felt so unreal.

The next morning was worse. My brain kept playing all the scenes of fire that I had ever witnessed—in movies, in dreams, in life.

The fires that raged and raged and raged but never died. I never saw the end of any fire. They just burned on and on and on. I never saw one burn out completely.

And it just tortured my soul. I wanted an end. I wanted a closure. I wanted a burn out. But I was never allowed one.

A fire was raging inside my heart too. It has been burning my heart for twenty long years. My heart wanted a burn out too.

So, I just took a pen and poured down my heart on some crumbled pieces of paper. And that is exactly what you just finished reading.

Maybe this will give me my long-awaited closure…

Heart of Darkness (Classics)

“The meaning of an episode was not inside like a kernel but outside, enveloping the tale which brought it out only as a glow brings out a haze.”

“Heart of Darkness” is Joseph Conrad‘s most read imperial work that portrays the contrast between humanity of the savages and the inhumanity of the civilised people. The story is an ironical treatment of the so-called civilizing mission that was going on in Africa.

The novel describes how the white race, who proclaimed to carry out the responsibility of enlightening the uncivilized, inhuman and ignorant Africans, were actually practicing imperialism and oppressing the black race.

The title “Heart of Darkness” is not only a reference to the centre of Africa but there is also an apparent ironical allusion to the darkness within the protagonist’s mind as well as within the white race.

The narrative technique of the novel is the most unique, employing two narrators to narrate the tale and entailing the framework of the story within a story, while also involving a dislocation of time at certain points. It gives the tale a certain authenticity while providing multiple perspectives on the same phenomenon of character.

The journey into dark continent of Africa, as projected in “Heart of Darkness”, is not just an exploration of the physical territory but a journey into the hidden depths of the unconscious and the exploration of the innermost part of the human mind.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Classics)

“To live, to err, to fall, to triumph, to recreate life out of life!”

“A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” by James Joyce is a novel which entails the growth and development of an artist narrated by employing the stylistic device of the stream of consciousness technique.

The novel shows Stephen’s growth through a series of illuminating moments as he progresses towards the final realization of his true vocation. Stephen goes through an array of life changing experiences as he moves from childhood to manhood learning his own destiny. Every experience that he undergoes helps him to develop from a creature to a creator.

Joyce employs several modernist devices like the stream of consciousness technique, varying point of view, modulation of style, symbolism and repetition, epiphanies, mythification and modern aesthetic theories to weave the novel in a way that pushes the creative boundaries of Literature and contribute towards bringing modernism in the English Language.

Great Expectations (Classics)

“I was too cowardly to do what I knew to be right, as I had been too cowardly to avoid doing what I knew to be wrong.”

“Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens is a novel that has the classic motif of an improvement Literature and the framework of Bildungsroman. The novel portrays many characteristics of the Victorian society during the industrial revolution.

Through the well-knit and compact plot of the novel, Dickens sews in the underlying essence of traditional Bildungsroman and the classical improvement plot with a twist, through Pip’s journey from a poor labouring boy in a backward provincial town to becoming a genuine gentleman in the true sense of the term.

The relationship between Pip and Estella takes a grand turning within this framework as Pip mixes his feelings for Estella with his desire for wealth and gentility and objectify her as a gift that Miss Havisham will bestow upon him. Pip is hurt when Estella fails to understand his love as she has been raised to serve as an heart-breaking machine for Miss Havisham. However, Dickens finally reunites Pip and Estella in the end to serve the greater purpose of the novel.

The theme of Upward Social Mobility forms the core of the novel where everyone runs after being important and powerful just by earning money through whatever means possible. In “Great Expectations” Dickens portrays the internal notions of the growing ideology of self-improvement to ensure upward social mobility.

The novel also highlights the theme of criminality in respectability where criminality is shown to be intimately intertwined with the respectable society. Magwitch is shown to be a criminal not by choice but by compulsion; while Wimmick and Jaggers are the smart criminal minds running the system, who were not convicted just because they knew how to be spared by the system.

Fairytales elements too enter into and affects the plot of “Great Expectations” where Dickens employs the fairytales mode not in order to replicate it but in order to deform and deconstruct it through the tones of realism.

Charles Dickens winds all these important themes into the compact structure of “Great Expectations” to paint the perfect portrayal of the changing society that made it one of the greatest novel of the time.

Shantiniketan: The Peaceful Abode of Tagore

“দেখেছি রূপসাগরে মনের মানুষ কাঁচা সোনা…”

(I have seen through the ocean of my imagination
My dream person as a Pure Gold…)

With a Baul’s song so beautiful begins our day at Tagore’s peaceful abode, Shantiniketan.

Continue reading “Shantiniketan: The Peaceful Abode of Tagore”