Status: Read from May 11 to May 15, 2018
My rating: /5
Author: Shashi Deshpande
Devayani chooses to live alone in the small town of Rajnur after her parents’ death, ignoring the gently voiced disapproval of her family and friends. Teaching English, creating a garden and making friends with Rani, a former actress who settles in town with her husband and three children, Devayani’s life is tranquil, imbued with a hard-won independence. Then she meets Ashok Chinappa, Rajnur’s new District Superintendent of Police, and they fall in love despite the fact that Ashok is much older, married, and – as both painfully acknowledge from the very beginning – it is a relationship without a future.
Deshpande’s unflinching gaze tracks the sufferings, evasions and lies that overtake those caught in the web of subterfuge. There are no hostages taken in the country of deceit; no victors; only scarred lives. This understated yet compassionate examination of the nature of love, loyalty and deception establishes yet again Deshpande’s position as one of India’s most formidable writers of fiction.
In the Country of Deceit is a story of young lady Devayani, the main protagonist. She lives independently in a small town Rajnur after her parent’s death. But she is well surrounded and supported by few relatives and friends. She is constantly insisted by her close relatives to leave the place and live with them or to get married. Her life in tranquil and content with teaching English and creating her garden.
An ex-film actor, Rani, comes to stay in the same town. Gradually they both become good friends and Rani insists Devayani to help in a script for her come-back movie. Through Rani, Devayani meets Ashok Chinappa, Rajnur’s new District Superintendent of Police. Ashok is much older than Devayani, married and has a daughter. Still he cannot stop himself falling for her. Finally Devayani accepts him and constantly lies and deceits her loved ones to secretly meet this man. She falls in love with this man who is much elder and married, who cannot commit her anything. This love has no boundary, no morals or ethics. Even after knowing what she is doing is not right, she does not have any future with Ashok, she is helpless. The guilt of becoming “the other woman” is someone’s life is eating her up inside but every time she becomes helpless and desperate to meet him.
This novel about adult love makes one think about true nature of love and marriage. In a society, where there are restriction to fall in love, two individuals fall in love despite the social norms. The protagonist constantly urges herself to stop this but there are questions that arises with no answers: How one perceives love? Love is an idea….or is it? And who decides what is right and what is not?
This is a simple story, narrated in first person, written in a sophisticated and powerful way. It mirrors the life of an ordinary person, about her loneliness, emotion, agony, and helplessness. There are some very beautiful passages on love and life.
“Why did I do it? Why did I enter the country of deceit? What took me into it? I hesitate to use the word love, but what other word is there?”
About the Author:
Novelist and short story writer, Shashi Deshpande began her career with short stories and has by now authored nine short story collections, twelve novels and four books for children. Three of her novels have received awards, including the Sahitya Akademi award for `That Long Silence’. Some of her other novels are `The Dark Holds No Terrors’, `A Matter of Time’, `Small Remedies’, `Moving On’, `In The Country of Deceit’ and `Ships that Pass’. Her latest novel is `Shadow Play’. Many of her short stories and novels have been translated into a number of Indian as well as European languages. She has translated two plays by her father, Adya Rangacharya, (Shriranga), as well as his memoirs, from Kannada into English, and a novel by Gauri Deshpande from Marathi into English.
Apart from fiction, she has written a number of articles on various subjects – literature, language, Indian writing in English, feminism and women’s writing – which have now been put together in a collection `Writing from the Margin.’ She has been invited to participate in various literary conferences and festivals, as well as to lecture in Universities, both in India and abroad.
She was awarded the Padma Shri in 2008.