Three generations of Indian women woven into a deep tale, Before We Visit The Goddess is a story that highlights the unseen side of relationships between mothers and their daughters.
Chitra B Divakaruni has been known for her deep stories which revolve around a small community, bounded by traditions and love, surpassing all boundaries. Before We Visit The Goddess is a novel spanning 60 years, opening with Sabitri who recently got to know that her American-born granddaughter, Tara, is planning to drop out of college. Sabitri has never met Tara and is longing to met her own daughter, Bela for many years. She decides to write a letter to Tara to make her understand how education helped her when no one was there.
She starts chronicling her life starting from the point where she used to help her mother out to make sweets for rich families of the village. She was taken up by rich sponsors, but soon falls out of the arrangement when she fell in love with their son. Discarded from the community, she turned her fate around and got married to her professor, who settled down for a lavish job and that’s when they had Bela. After her husband’s death, Sabitri takes up the charge of her life and Bela by opening a sweet shop, Durga Sweets.
After decades, Bela repeats the history again. She drops out of college and elopes with her boyfriend, Sanjay to the USA. She never returns to India or sees her mother. But the new country doesn’t treat Bela the way she expected. She deals with alienation and disconnect from her culture and family, which she passes on to Tara as well. Before We Visit The Goddess explores the moments that echo across generations as well as the quiet erosion of culture that happens over time.
Chitra B Divakaruni has a flair of sharing deep stories with us, something which we don’t ponder on. Her stories always stand out in this way. In Before We Visit The Goddess, you witness the complications of the mother-daughter relationship. A mother who is trying to save coming generations from the mistakes she made, but is unable to from time to time. The frustration and sadness at her inability make her drown in deep sorrow. It is something that we relate to in Indian culture as well. When our parents become too cautious and start sharing their experiences, saving us from the paths that can lead to a dark future. Especially our mothers, who understand the role of women in our society and try and prepare us as much as she can, so that nobody can take advantage of us or let us down. Our mothers prepare us to prove that we really are fortunate lamps.
Before We Visit The Goddess is a story that you will really like. The story line is pretty smooth and easy to comprehend from heart. It is a story of deeply affecting moments. The only issue I faced with Before We Visit The Goddess was that a story that opened on such a great note, left some loose ends at the climax. The climax took away the essence of the story and rather focused on minor characters, like Bela’s neighbor.
All in all, Before We Visit The Goddess is something that you should devour into this summer. It is a book that you will relate to deeply.