But rest assured: This tragedy is not a fiction. All is True.
Hence started my journey of a fine book, A Fine Balance. I have no sane excuse for my ignorance about Rohinton Mistry novels. I just didn’t have a single clue about him or his achievements till I joined Goodreads. Yes!! Though it’s not a big deal as one is not supposed to know everything but here’s a writer of Indian origin, writing unbelievably great books about Indians and is still remain unacknowledged by a common Indian reader is densely pitiable. His Facebook page has 7000+ odd likes where, as I gauged from the comments, majority is of non-Indians. But then he is no marketing guru but a writer who writes and writes well, so well that it can make you cringe at the comfortable life you’re having or at least makes you open your eyes to take a good look at the hardships of the hapless lots around you.
I don’t read about Politics because it disgusts me. I don’t have a deep understanding about the 1970’s Emergency period because fortunately nobody in my family or acquaintances got affected by it, so basically it’s the experience which tells a story, watching gives an indifferent shrug. On the surface I know that it happened under the PMship of Indira Gandhi. School mainly tells you: She was the First women PM of India. She was the daughter of honorable Pandit JawaharLal Nehru. She was the mother of one of the youngest PM of India, Rajiv Gandhi. She was the reason why India didn’t face another partition by launching Operation Blue Star, hence reduced the idea of Khalistan into ashes because of which she was later assassinated. Nothing more, nothing less always a glossy and martyred picture of Daughter of India, Ironically.
So how does it feel to read A Fine Balance? What does it promise to convey its readers? What makes a 600+ page novel readable or rather a page-turner? What’s different about the lives of Dina Dalal, Ishvar, Om and Maneck that you haven’t witness before especially being an Indian? Well the answer could be “May be nothing is different, all trite”, or; “It’s helluva great story, I haven’t read anything like this before”. But the answer remains somewhere in between and the secret is Rohinton’s great writing. His matter-of-factly narration, awesome character building and plot settings can give you the pleasure like watching ‘Hum Log’ on high definition channel. He is not a man of big bulky words, dictionary is almost dispensable while reading him but the words are piercing enough to make you feel the subject. The story reflects through them in an unmatched finesse. There is no room left for any improvement as he has used every single component at his disposal in building this masterpiece, just like Dina’s quilt in the novel.
So, the story revolves around four main characters, Dina Dalal, a widow and a self-respected lady who treats her independence dearest than any of the relations left in her life. Ishwar, a darji (tailor) whose father sent him to get equipped with tailoring in order to earn him a life of repute which he wouldn’t have got under the fate-imposed Chamaar profession. Om, Ishvar’s nephew, again a darji, a young and aggressive lad and an orphan whose life is dedicated mainly to his uncle Ishvar and vice-versa. And, Maneck, a guy from Mountains, whose struggle to know and feel his worth in lives of others especially his parents and a college friend remained unending. The story is about how four of them got together in one flat not willingly but due to twists and turns life threw at them. It’s a journey of how reluctance was over-powered by compassion, how loneliness made room for companionship and how a house became home , how four of them amidst many doubts and objections became “there for each other” Kind, but it was a home of cards waiting for a gush of insensitive wind to tumble it and its housemates.
It’s a sad novel, heart wrenching in fact. It will make you cry (except in case of defective tear ducts) and it will make you very angry. It has its dose of humor but simultaneously it carries an air of apprehension around it like how a moment of happiness is short-lived and shall soon be replaced by gloominess and sorrow. It’s something I felt while watching Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby and Gran Torino, where as an audience one starts to feel that good days will be balanced out with bad days because Life, the bitch, usually gives us lemons, and to the unfortunate lot, it plants a lemon tree at the backyard of their wretched life. But throughout, this book echoes one universal law, that despair doesn’t have a favorite victim. It befalls upon everyone at some point of time, triggered by fate, destiny or power hungry human beings.
History is a witness to how Power breeds evil, breeds mainly on the blood of innocent lives who would have never imagined that their destiny would sacrifice them to such inexplicable atrocities. This book depicts the story revolving around such atrocities and enduring them, living through them, dying through them or merely surviving through them and resilience is the main key to such survival. Rohinton has captured life through his characters, has captured India through an unfortunate time, has captured ugliness of human face and has finally captured resplendence of human soul through his mesmerizing words. More than 5 stars.
READ IT !!!