Book Review: The Fragrance of Rose by Chirajit Paul

A woman has to sleep with right men to progress in life. And love will always elude her.

Rinita Bose is a gorgeous girl from a small village called Phoolbari. By the time Rinita reaches to an age of adolescence, she becomes an orphan. Though she has no social security in the men-dominated society, she has two friends, Chaitali and Mahesh, on whom she can count during the crises. Rinita is very ambitious about her dreams in life but as soon as she reluctantly joins a news channel, RTC; life begins giving her jolts.

There, her boss Arindam tricks her to his bed and later when she is pregnant with his child, he not only betrays her but also thrashes her to an extent that she loses the child in her womb. To avenge the loss and pain, she tricks Arindam in her trap and busts his wickedness to many people in the company and beats him proudly. After that, she flees to Darjeeling to escape from Arindam as he was after her life.

She does one commercial for Wellington Tea estate and becomes an escort to the owner – Prem Agarwal - whom she comforts by giving blow jobs. Also, she befriends Hemant Thapa – the union leader. Through him, she comes to know the abject situation of the labour working in the tea estates and observes that how rich people, high on capitalism, are reluctant to help poor people. 

The real problem chugs in when Priyanshu Agarwal falls for her. She being an escort to his father cannot accept his proposal but he presses and chases her like a lover raging with madness. Once again she realizes that her time to move on has come. She cannot tell her dark secrets to Priyanshu, whom she has begun loving, but at the same time knows that her past life whenever exposed will surely shatter some more lives. She wants that to be stopped, for now, she is happy being a rich escort – her ambitions are getting fulfilled. She doesn’t crave for love anymore: the thoughts of brutality vent upon her by Arindam haunts her so often.

When the love story comes in the limelight, Prem Agarwal deals with Rinita to go away to hide his shame. With no option at hand, she bargains it for the sum of fifty lakh rupees. Out of which she doles out twenty-five lakhs to Hemant Thapa for the well-being of the labour of tea estates; so that there can be a proper school and medical help center for the needy ones.

The fear of Arindam stops her from going to Kolkata; hence, she lands in Mumbai to work in the movies. Here she modifies her name to a meaningful abbreviation: Rose. In Mumbai, people know her by the name of Rose. There she joins an acting academy and happens to meet Shahid Khan – a struggling script writer. Soon they become good friends and share a good understanding for each other’s struggle. Through Shahid Khan she meets a seventy-year-old struggling producer, Daryanani. Shahid Khan insists on making not a so glamorous movie but after meeting, Rose Daryanani changes his mind and insists for a love story with Rose as one of the important characters in the movie. This change of vision infuriates Shahid hence he slightly turns away from both.

When the matter comes up to Rose, with the intention of helping Shahid, she approaches the old producer in bed but instead of romance she finds him a ruthless misogyny and he assaults her. Somehow she manages to save herself and comes back. Ironically, after a few days, the producer agrees to make the movie with Shahid. And, she takes up an item number which shoots her in fame.

The real blow lands on her dignity when Daryanani forces her to sleep with an underworld don who had financed the movie. Leaving the disturbing life of Mumbai, Rose comes back to Kolkata and marries his autistic childhood friend Mahesh, whom she often ignored while struggling to cement her place in the glamorous world. Rose bedded with many men but most of the time she did for others.

Through the strong character like Rinita Bose, the author has tried to concern the voices of women who can go to any extend either to fight for justice and equality or for others benefit. Sleeping with men isn’t a mere fun but signifies a sense of sacrifice. It is clear from the story that women with no support or having nowhere to go are considered ‘open for all’ in the society. These women always find it tough to sustain without compromises.

The story is fast-paced and the description of places like Mumbai and Darjeeling aptly makes the backdrop of the story. Writing a story with having a lead protagonist is something difficult for a male writer but Mr. Paul has done it superbly. The novel discusses the plight of a young lady but never enters the chasms of feminism – this is something charming about the novel.