The city and the sea by Raj Kamal Jha

What happens when the shadows from your nightmares reach out and grab you?

When reality is portrayed through fantasy you get magical realism. Raj Kamal Jha uses this approach to paint the pages of his book by an event which shook the nation; an event which involved a woman, a bus, an iron rod, and a name, Nirbhaya.

The book doesn’t go much into details of that fateful day, but it floats on the surface of these horrors and asks us to take a dive, and we do.

Raj kamal Jha holds our hand and takes us to the other side of the story making us ask the question- What if?

The book is divided into two parallel running stories – the city, which revolves around a boy who sets out to find his missing mother, and the sea, which carries the story of a woman with faded memory. Both the stories are carried forward on different frequencies making your heart race at times and at times slowing it down to a whisper. Although toward the end, you will witness all the loose threads you came across, entwining together to give you an unexpected end.

There is another place which plays a vital part in the story- The Sea (with an uppercase). “The Sea creeps up on you, just like that. Through the countless things that make it up.” The author makes sure you feel the chill of that place on your skin; a place you would want to keep away from even though it is all around you. “Bad thoughts and sad thoughts. Cold with fear, hot with rage. Thoughts you always push deep inside, they all come and collect in The Sea.”

This book uses beautiful prose with internal rhymes almost as if it is singing to you even though it is a melancholic song adding to the weight you already feel on your chest. There is a powerful use of imagery which transports you and make you walk with the characters.

This book underlines sexual violence which has not been mentioned even once in the book and it need not be. Powerful writing is the one which tells its story with images and emotions portrayed through words. And this book does exactly that.

I would definitely recommend the book to all those who had been holding on to this story for quite some time now and to those who are clueless. It takes you on a ride and shows you the society and its struggles to keep its people moral. It shows you human emotions, the pain, the dreams and the contrast between different families. In spite of having elements of fantasy, this book will surely bring you closer to reality.

TITLE: The city and the sea

Author: Raj Kamal Jha

Rating: 4/5

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