Wednesday, January 11, 2006
A Beautiful TragedY...
Rohinton Mistry + Emergency period in India + all kinda Emotions + pathetic social issues = A Fine Balance... A Fine Balance is a Beautiful Tragedy...surprised? no..its not a wrong choice of Words- on the contrary,its a deliberate one. Tragedies aren't known to be "beautiful"...they're painful... And that's exactly where Rohinton Mistry manages to strike a note of difference. He brings forth the horror and devastation rought about by the Emergency in all its vividness through 'A Fine Balance'. The novel is a classic critique of the social and political environment that existed in India, and leaves the reader with a pathetic view of the earlier beliefs and practices. The story is set in 1975 in an "unidentified city near the sea", riddled with poverty and teeming with beggars.It centers around the unlikely living arrangements of four characters who strained by their economic circumstances come together to share an apartment. Dina Dilal-is a beautiful, middle-agd Parsi widower who has spent her life trying to escape her abusive and domineering brother in a society where independent women are like grapes in winter!(ok..i mean outta season..) The apartment represents her attempt to maintain her freedom, but she cannot afford the rent on her own.With the help of her friend, Zenobia, she builds on her life-She takes in a fellow Parsi as a boarder, Maneck Kohlah, whose parents have sent him to the city from his beloved Himalayan hill country so that he can earn a degree.Then she hires two tailors to do piece work(for an export company,again thanks to Zenobia) -Hindus whom she allows to live in the apartment : Ishvar Darji and his seventeen-year-old nephew, Omprakash. Despite the huge difference in their backgrounds, the four develop into something like a family, as they begin to depend on each other in the face of financial hardship, personal troubles, and political turmoil. Om and Maneck are found to be typical boys(if u know wat i mean..), Ishwar,the father figure and Dina the Mother! The lives of teh other characters characters--including the local Beggarmaster, a guilt ridden rent collector, a hair collector who takes his work a lil too seriously, a crippled beggar become intertwined with those of the main characters, providing a richly textured, and detailed picture, of their world. When everything seems to be becoming happy and jus perfect for a fairy-tale ending, we are reminded of the turmoil in the outside world by sudden tragedy which envelopes the lives of these four characters. On a visit back home,to get Om married, Om and Ishvar are forcibly sterilized(lottsa village drama-the past comes back to haunt them...); Maneck, devastated by the murder of an activist classmate, goes abroad. Dina who is unaware of all this is suddenly left all alone. She has no inkling of what has happened to the tailors and does not know why they do not come back from the village... Fading hopes...lotsa death...and she returns to her brother's place... Maneck returns from abroad to the hills..his place The tailors-(once "chamaars" who had defied the restrictions of the caste), return to the streets...And hence, "the Circle is Completed" "Mistry also manages to maintain a fine balance of his own. He blends bad luck with a dash of hope, egging us on - only to dash our expectations with a new set of conflicts and troubles. There is always a silver lining for his characters. He creates a masterpiece that is Dickensian in its sympathy for the poor while combining it with a celebration of the indomitable spirit of human desire and hope as well as the despair of unfulfilled dreams. The novel is a symphony of corruption, cruelty, hope, desire, kindness and despair." "As the characters move from distrust to friendship and from friendship to love, A Fine Balance creates an enduring panorama of the human spirit in an inhuman state" A tragedy that left me smiling sadly in retrospect.
I read the book in between classes, and during the first half of my prep leave...and i dont regret it! Its a book that leaves you "wondering" throughout. Simply Amazing! A MUST READ!!! (p.s- the tailors' comparison of life with their work is quite a something to think on...patch work..life's js like a Patch work...various elements come together signifyin moments of joy,hope,despair,love,etc and join to make somthing as Complete as a comfortable quilt...) READ THIS BOOK!
Posted by Medhavi at 3:43 AM