Feb - 2022 - Burnt Sugar - Avni Doshi

BG 2 review - February 2022


Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi


Burnt Sugar’ is a story of love and hate, betrayal, forgiveness, and revenge. A story not between lovers - between a mother and daughter.


Tara, the mother, was neglected and careless. In her youth, Tara was wild. Antara, the daughter, becomes her unwilling but affixed life companion. She abandoned her loveless marriage to join an ashram and become the lover of Baba, its leader. Tara exhibits a pattern of inadequate parenting that continues, till four years later, when Baba replaces her with a younger model. Tara and Antara, then 7, were found begging outside the Club in Pune, eventually rescued by Antara’s father, who had divorced Tara and remarried.


Tara spent years chasing after a disheveled, homeless 'artist' - all with her young child. Antara as an adult meets Dilip. After dating briefly, they get married. Two years into their relationship, Antara discovers that her mother is losing her memory. The doctors are unable to provide a conclusive diagnosis. Eventually Tara starts forgetting things, mixing up her maid's wages and leaving the gas on all night.


Antara is left faced with the task of caring for a woman who never cared for her. She loses her sense of control. She cannot help her mother, and fears her relationship with Dilip is worsening. Feeling purposeless and alone, she decides to have a baby. Though she thinks the baby will solve her problems, Antara soon learns the opposite is true. She gives birth to a baby girl and is immediately plunged into a heightened sense of despair. She cannot care for the baby, and fears that the child is imprisoning her.

Then one night, during a visit with family and friends, Antara becomes convinced her mother's illness is a trick. By pretending to lose her memory and her mind, Antara believes Tara has successfully erased Antara from her own life.  A complex and unusual relationship, both mother and daughter may be extreme characters, however they could relate to the intensity of feelings and the way they mirror each other against their will. It was a well written book with an ending which left much to be desired.


The group rated the book 6.5/10.


Neena Chandola