There are very few fictional books which will make you sit and ponder, which can be referred to people who like to read books with real issues raised. The Last Bloom by Poulomi Sengupta fits in that category of books. It is one of those excellent book which I would love to flaunt in my bookshelf.
Real Issues Raised
As I said, The Last Bloom raises some real issues about the education system in Bengal which has been convincingly ignored all these years by high authorities. The issues like Bengali medium state schools where education is imparted completely in Bengali language. The problem faced by such student who later joins English medium College. Their chances for better jobs are slim compared to well spoken English speaking contenders.
Then another glaring issue of politics and political parties in educational institutes. It really has proven detrimental for the welfare of institute and student and teachers. Students joins politics to survive college years and to build connection and waste previous time on fighting on trivial issues at the end it doesn’t take them anywhere.
Poulomi has also discussed the upper-hand the students of center board have compared to state board student. While in center board there are objective question which are high scoring compare to subjective questions of state board which were low scoring. Also state board student have to do rather intensive study on an out-dated syllabus.
There are similarly many such issues been raised by the author throughout the book. With these issues as the base around which the plot of the book is woven. All the issues perfectly synced and intricate with the plot with special emphasis given to the party politics.
There are four girls Priya, Keya, Renela and Aashi who detest to join any political party in their college and instead devote their time to study. As a consequence they face many troubles and how they overcome is the crux of the plot.
My Own Experience
The Last Bloom has made me nostalgic about my own school and college days. I have been brought up and educated in Bengal and in the state affiliated school and college. So I am aware of all the problems pitched in the book.
I always used to grumble about the syllabus and how we have to write pages after pages even for 5 marks question just to get 2 or 3.
I am a proud Loretian whose campus was free from any kind of politics though same couldn’t be said about the other campuses like Jadavpur University, Presidency College and many more state run or affiliated colleges of Calcutta. Many of my friends who went on for higher studies in Delhi also complained about ruthless politics in colleges and universities. I am not aware of the present education scenario of Bengal but the issues of the book were very much valid during my time.
Excellent Writing Skills
Amidst of all these serious issues, one cannot overlook the splendid and flamboyant writing style of the author. Poulomi seems to be specially close to nature as there are many flowery and expressive description related to nature which were enthralling to read. She has an excellent knack for expressions. Even the human feces or poop has been written in the most artistic style. It’s her aesthetically pleasing style makes a delightful read.
As expected characterization has been done beautifully. In fact I have images created in my mind while reading. Among all the character, I liked Vivek’s character the most. He is like a spiritual anchor in this book and there are many debates between him and Priya on the education system through which the author suggested many potential means to improve the system. So it is not just raising the issue the author has also made effort to provide solutions as well which was also the opinion of mine and many during my college days.
Priya, the protagonist, has a mind of her own but also has a desire to be popular in her college, she follows the herd, afraid to be left alone and friendless, a bit subdued. But not for long. She finally takes her stand. Her character evolves, matures and blooms gradually.
But it is Kenela who was first to boycott all the political parties and their so called movements. Her’s character comes out the strongest in the most testing times.
Aashi was the toughest and the most vocal character in the book. She reminds me one of my college friend who has excellent debating skills and was the most apolitical person I know till date with opinions on all the political parties and their agendas.
All the characters seems to be inspired by real people and are close to reality.
The author has also done intensive study on the Geology subject which was the focus department in the book. It gave the book a very authentic look something which many first time authors fails at. Like I have recently read a travel book Colorful Notion by Mohit Goyal where author failed to describe places visited in the genuine way.
Poulomi has ended the book with the strong message to keep politics out of the student’s college. If at all there has to be movement then be it on relevant and genuine issues like making English first language in all the state run schools, emphasis on the development of soft skills, revise the out-dated syllabus etc.
The Last Bloom is a very commendable endeavour by the author. It is highly recommended and a must read.