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Book Review: Scent of the Soil by Suchita Malik

The monotony of professional life is common and if you add crumbling family life into it, it becomes Scent of the Soil by Suchita Malik. A Civil Servant, who has always been on his toes when it comes to working, is lagging behind in catching up with his family. An estranged wife who has remarried for love, children who are going astray and in between this turmoil is Shubhojit, the protagonist who is trying to find his roots, his peace of life again.

The Scent of the Soil revolves around the life of graying, balding and soulless Civil servant Shubhojit who has the responsibility of taking the steel frame of Indian Government system to new heights. With two Prime Minister awards handed out at Vigyan Bhawan to Shubhojit, his story begins. He starts questioning himself: What am I doing? His thoughts quickly move to the nostalgia of old life that he had; with his beautiful Wife Yashodhara, his children, his carefree childhood in the village.

On the other hand, the reader gets to meet his ex- wife Yashodhara, who is now married to Manidhar, living the life she always wanted. With nice circles to gush about and richness, Yashodhara has everything that she ever wanted. But somewhere, she cannot forget Shubhojit and her children. She thinks that she has got a second chance to live her life the way she wanted, but then why is she not happy?
Shubhojit through her eyes is a typical bureaucrat with a long tenure that had hardened is thoughts, his sense of too much righteousness, his “always right” attitude and a stubborn disregard for changing norms and his way of thinking. She thinks Manidhar was like a breath of fresh air, but still, her heart is still somewhere with Shubhojit.

One day, mid-life crisis and stress hit Shubhojit right at his heart. He suffers from a heart attack and ultimately, has to take a sabbatical to save himself. His mother comes back to him from her village the children start respecting him again. Yashodhara also starts visiting him again, which in turn reminds him of the Scent of his soil, his golden days with his family.

His sickness leads to a reconciliation in the family and brings them closer. He tries to see inside of him very clearly, the areas which he should’ve taken care of, the mistakes he made with Yashodhara, how he should not have ignored his kids and his mother, who needed him more than ever. But will this Scent of the Soil remain with him forever?

The Scent of the Soil can be termed as very pleasant family drama, a light-hearted read that leaves a mellow feeling in your heart. I loved the realistic background of the story, and somewhere being a working person I understand the pressures and family longing. The scent of the Soil is all about finding equilibrium in life, and Shubhojit manages to do that in a pretty good way. There are many emotional moments in the novel as well, especially the part where Shubhojit’s mother explains to the kids how village system worked, how was Shubhojit’s childhood in the village. My favorite part was this in the book.

But somewhere down the line, Scent of the Soil seemed to be a little dragged. Malik could’ve definitely added some other plots in the story to give it an interesting twist. Yes, the story is emotional but there is a robotic tone to it which didn’t let me connect to it completely.

All in all, Scent of the Soil makes up for a pretty nice light-hearted read that anybody can pick up.

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