SULTRY DAYS : A Tale of Struggle and Freedom
Sultry Days is the fifth novel written by Shobha De published in the year 1994. With Sultry Days Shobha De has explored a different approach in her characters which had not been seen in her previous novels. Shobha writes in the front page of this novel; 'For my children...finally a book by me that they can read.' L.Sonia Ningthoujam writes; 'Sultry Days, takes us into the world of power, sex and guns, the shady side of Mumbai upper class society.'  In this novel Shobha has realistically presented the lives of youth, their aspirations their attitudes, she mentions in her autobiography; ' The novel is littered with types from that mixed-up decade-the self-styled bohemians out to change the world but not their smelly underwear; the dirty old men of Mumbai, all gas and small turds; the corporate ladies with their 'good life' hangs-ups; the intellectuals, pariahs and parasites who feed off the rich while spitting on their 'capitalist values'. It was a fun book to do. And for those of us who grew up in that era in Mumbai, there were a lot of familiar echoes and reference points that provided loads of amusement during the recounting. I consider 'God' one of my better-etched characters... I can only regret he wasn't for real.'  Shobha De dazzles the reader with her frank and candid tales of the lives of males and females who are trying to carve a successful career in the field of literature and journalism in the city of Mumbai. Because of her own journalistic stint in Mumbai Shobha's Sultry Days emerges as a very realistic novel.
Shobha says, 'I rather liked doing this book with its simple tale of doomed love, simply because it took me back to my college days and to the edges of the pseudo-arty intellectual world I flirted with briefly before beating a hasty retreat.' 
The protagonist in this novel is also a female like other novels of Shobha De, but unlike her other novels Sultry Days also revolves around a male character. Nisha, the protagonist of the novel is a strong headed and career oriented female although the novel also deals very realistically with a male character who also becomes the central character as the novel unfolds. God or Deb is the central male character and Nisha is the narrator. It is through Deb that Nisha discovers herself. Nisha is a young college student who is sharp and focused towards studies, she comes from an upper middle class family. Nisha's parents do not have a very loving relationship. She always feels tense that father has no time for her mother and neglects his daughter. Nisha is a shy girl and she always hated the frown birthmark on her forehead which made her look tensed all the time. ' Was it my expression? Did I look troubled? In pain? Depressed? Maybe it was that birthmark of mine. It had to be that. I was born with worry lines between my brows.' --------- page 2 Nisha thought that she may appear to Deb as a, 'A prissy little good girl who carried far too may books around. Pretty enough, I suppose. But not special.' --- page 2
From the beginning we become aware of Nisha's attraction for Deb who is also referred to as God by most of his college friends. Deb is the son of a communist and is also a communist himself, he often gets arrested while taking out Morchas. Nisha gets attracted to Deb because of his unusual personality. His appearance is shabby, wears days' old stubble, always scratches his 'matted locks which were full of lice-nests,' smokes 'beedies,' is a man of loose morals, 'has had several girls by the time he reached college'. His attitude towards girls is also to – 'use them and leave them.' ' I learnt very quickly that I had to bury whatever little ego and pride I had if I wished to hang around God. His attitude towards girls was simple-use them and leave them... As for me, I was plain moonstruck. And for once in my life I wasn't going to lose out by default.' --- page 5...
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