Title:The Weight Loss Club
Author: Devapriya Roy
Published by: Rupa Publications India in 2013
Devapriya Roy's second novel, The Weight Loss Club too, like her first novel The Vague Woman's Handbook, left a thoughtful impression in the mind. The vibrant creative graphic of the cover page is the first impression that would force a mind to grab it and dig deep in the fiction. The Fiction delineates the mental turmoil and the transformation of the characters and the story line. When I say story line I should make you all sure it doesn't have any particular story line, like it has never begun nor ended. It is a story of a phase and the lives of the residents of Nancy Housing Cooperative. And again don't judge the book by the title too. If it says The Weight Loss Club it is actually not. The title is allegorical; symbolizing a united cosmic world that brought people together under one roof may be with one root motto "weight loss", but actually to find solace from the frustration of the daily life. As usual this Fiction again became the perfect example of Devapraya Roy's intellectual affinity, where the drama of life never makes one to feel fictitious but the noesis of our daily life.
From Nandy to Nancy, from Mandakini to Mandy, the transitions of the characters in the housing complex are woven with each other as an integral part in a plausible parameter but in a very simple manner it evolves. The whole setting of the novel is developed around Nancy Housing Complex. 7 protagonists if I say so and among them one who played the role of a catalyst, who brought solace and rain in a deserted world. A vignette of the characters:
Monalisa Das, the stay-at-home mum and over obsessed with the education and scores of her sons. A typical home maker who always thinks of the cleanliness of her kitchen and house.
Meera Sahai, continuously bullied by her Mother-in-law and a victim of Postpartum Depression.
Aparajita Mukherjee alias Apu: An academic and a PhD Student who opposes marriage to her family front where Apu’s mother is deep in search for a perfect match for the daughter.
Abeer Mukherjee: Bother of Apu, a college student and a secret admirer of Mandakini Mandal alias Mandy.
Treeza Mathew: Once a school secretary, now doomed in glumness and loneliness.
Anada Bose: a true blue bachelor and secret admirer too. Always ready to help others and a social creature too.
Sandhya: The catalyst, returned from Oxford and nestled in Nancy, brought all under the Weight Loss Club. She became the therapeutic guru of all.
These are the main characters of fiction around whom the fiction sprung up. Apart from them there are many characters who worked as the binder in the fiction.
The characters in the fiction seem like extracted from the real life. I feel like I am one of them and residing in Nancy Housing Complex with all the neighbouring mates I meet in my everyday life. The minute detail of the behavioural and the circumstantial aspects are so well projected that will never let one feel fabricated. The characters' psychological modulations are illuminated with an array of naturalistic ordeals.
Kolkata as the prime location of the Fiction, Devapriya doesn't leave any loop to encompass detailing the city, the city life, the Mom's gathering in front of the school gates, the delicacies of Bengali cuisine, Durga Puja, the over casted clouds of Kolkata, Garia Haat, Universities, Romaces, Bangla band not even she left Paoli Dam too. Kolkata- Bengali- Food are an integral part- the first four lines of the novel are the perfect example of that:
"September in Calcutta is a delicious time, Mrs Das realized as she stood in the balcony of her flat in Nancy Housing Cooperative (Building A-1). Sublty Delicious, like creamy sandesh flavoured with cinnamon and dusted with pistachios." (CH:1 ; P: 5)
Overall I enjoyed reading the book though found a bit boring in many parts. The Fiction is very well narrated and I am a great admirer of Devapiraya Roy's writing skill, the subtle literary wits she delivers. The fiction is a bit lengthy but not over powering. The best part of the fiction what I loved most is the detail character orientation and the facts related to them with all the psychological imbalances and upheavals.