In What Ways Do Women Characters Contribute to the Story of Tridib in Amitav Ghosh’s the Shadow Lines? Essay

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The story of Tridib in ‘Shadow Lines’ remain incomplete without the influence, or rather we should say the contribution, of the women characters in the novel.

Main women characters in the novel namely Ila, May and the grandmother of the narrator, have a great influence on the coming-of-age of the narrator. It is important to understand their influence on the narrator first before that on Tridib, because Tridib is narrator’s mentor here, his alter-ego and mirror image.

Tridib’s correspondences had influenced the narrator’s heart and mind in his childhood days itself which did not leave their impressions even decades later. It was as if Tridib was the one who had helped make the narrator’s world for him. He had given him “worlds to
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May was Tridib’s romantic love, his love across the border: an idea inherited from the story of Tristan that he had heard during his stay in war time London.

Tridib was the initiator of the correspondences between him and May. Short and chatty letters that were generally exchanged between them, for the first time changed to a lengthy and descriptive one when Tridib happened to write to May of an experience he had in London at the time of his stay during the Second World War, where he had seen two strangers coupling in an old bomb-devastated theatre. He had written that he had wanted to meet May just like that, in complete strangeness in a ruin. First angered, but curiously intrigued and attracted to this strange man she flies to India, perhaps as it was a call from Tridib which she had heard, something which she herself was not sure until she met him.

“She hadn’t been able to help throwing her arms around him; it was just pure relief. She knew at last why she had come, and she was glad.”1

May was the person who gave Tridib’s life a new meaning. He had sacrificed himself. Later only do we get to know the details of his death. Years later after the unfortunate incident, she narrated it to the narrator and put back the missing pieces of the story of Tridib. Without the first-hand account by May the real circumstances of Tridib’s death would have never been revealed to the narrator, as well as us. For years May