Those pigeons carrying your letters, I have never let them in. I saw them flapping their wings against my windows but I pulled down the shutters and closed the curtains, oblivious to the conditions outside. They were there all night and I found them sprawled on my doorstep the next morning, your letters still held between their beaks. I burned them all down and watched the wind take away their ashes with it.
When I am all by myself, I am sometimes reminded of your bubbling laughter which sounded like the waves breaking against the rocks ashore. I saw the withered roses which were pressed in between the pages of my favorite novel, your name on every one of them and that made me long for you endlessly.
But then I realized it again. Falling for you was like walking on the quagmire, the more I tried to escape, the more I sank into its depths. I’d seen the end the day itself when our eyes had met; two broken hearts which were too shattered to fall in love again and four eyes that were in search of someone who’ll never be with them forever. Ever since I have learned to drive, pain has taken a permanent place on the passenger seat of my car. And I always knew there was nothing but despair, longing and heartbreak at the end of this road.
This is everything that I never said to you when I could. But I promise, every night when I close my eyes, there will always be a prayer on my lips:
May you read it and know it is for you. I hope you know it’s always been just you.
This novel revolves around the Ganguli family with the opening scene of a hospital in Massachusetts, where Ashima Ganguli is about to give birth to a baby. The husband Ashoke Ganguli names the baby Gogol in honor of the famous Ukranian author Nikolai Gogol. He had a deep relation with the name as he had been reading a short story collection by Gogol just before his accident, many years back.
The Ganguli couple names their son as Nikhil in school but he wanted to be called Gogol. But by the time he turned 14, he started hating his name. Before leaving for college, he changed his name to Nikhil Gogol Ganguli. He went to Yale for further studies and adopted the American culture.
While taking a train home for summers, the train was suddenly stopped as a man had jumped in front of the train and committed suicide. Ashoke becomes very concerned and he then tells him about the significance of his name. Gogol is troubled and starts regretting his decision of changing his name.
After graduating, he gets a job in NYC and moves in with a girl Maxine. Gogol introduces her to his parents. Shortly after the meeting, Ashoke dies of a heart attack in Ohio. Eventually, Gogol withdraws from Maxine and breaks up with her.
Ashima suggests him to meet Maushmi, one of his childhood friends, who has just broken up from her wedding. Gogol is reluctant but somehow agrees. They both are attracted to each other and get married. But Maushmi feels tied up and regrets her marriage. She has an extra marital relationship with Dimitri. When Gogol comes to know of it, he leaves her.
He finally comes to accept his name and picks up a collection of the Russian author’s stories that his father had gifted him many years back.
–Shades of Life