The name ‘Stupid Cupid’ sounds a little odd, not at all intense. With my usual habit of buying low cost books I went to Blossoms (bookshop). I excavated few books from the overflowing book racks. ‘Stupid Cupid’ was definitely not the one I was very sure of buying. The cover page had an illustration of Delhi with India Gate and Jantar Mantar in prominence- which gave the book intriguing looks. Still it was written by a former diplomat. And diplomats are known to get their books published through the influence they hold. No publisher will say no to them. Hence, I had very mixed feelings about the book. It was decently priced, better say available for 150 Rupees- and that was my budget for any book purchase that day. I bought it.
Adna the main protagonist of the novel was fortunate to have an aunt who left a huge house for her in her will. The house was located in Jorbagh, a locality inhabited by the masters of Indian state. God bless everyone with such aunts.
She chose to make the house a meeting place for lovers where people can rent a room without placing their identity cards. Love is the central theme of the place and a string which holds the narrative together. The story extends the boundaries of our imagined horizon about love. It is about the ‘love which is outside the institution of marriage’. Almost all the major characters and few minor ones are having extra-marital affair.
‘What a state of affairs! And how on earth was the place going to run with everyone falling in and out of love and everything getting more muddled and complex by the day?’
‘L’affair! It was a disease. A virus that jumped from country to country, crossed oceans and deserts and floated into cities and streets. It was highly contagious. It struck anywhere and everywhere. It died, and then flared up again in another corner, a different street, and all along the way it mutated in arbitrary fashion, producing unpredictable symptoms. But whatever else happened, whatever permutations were born of this, the virus remained as strong as ever, deadly and desirable.’
The novel poses important questions about the relevance of ‘marriage’. Can one not fall in love with someone who is already married? Is it ethical to do that? Affection and love don’t follow the norms laid by mankind.
The string of events in the book is all about uncertainty in love. In an extra-marital affair nobody is assured where it will lead to. Will there be a divorce and another marriage? There are no answers given. The nature of such an arrangement adds no security in the lives of the lovers. Nobody is assured about the prospects ahead. There is an abruption when the reader is getting used to such a ‘status quo’. It changes the course of the flow. The reader is left excited but with no clarity. That is where the novel ends and for a reader it seems to be a complete dead end leading nowhere! – read between the lines ‘a dead end is also a beginning of things’.
The geography of the novel is Delhi but it keeps rushing back to the purposelessness that is eating away the society in North east of India. There are questions and questions about the uncertain future of North East and about the extramarital affair in an individual’s life. It seems that which is continuing from last six decades. Is there a stable future ahead? The novel leaves you with a sense of optimism. Rest I am ordering another novel written by Mamang Dai and yes! Moral of the story- don’t judge the author by career choices s/he had made.