I am a big fan of Rohinton Mistry. He writes about the misery in life the drudgery of middle class Indian households and the futility of dreams. I am an optimist but still reading him makes me shudder back to reality. He does leave me sad but then it is not the depressing sadness of all hope lost. It is the sadness one would feel if one was unaware of the concept of being happy. (Did any of it make sense ?)
Well if it didn't forget my rambling . Mistry does strange stuff to my head.
This is the story of Nariman , 79 year old suffering from Parkinson's . He dwells with his step children Coomy and Jal. They tolerate each other - everyone has misgivings about the other . But then being in a family is many a times a grin and bear affair. Coomy and Jal's half sister Roxana is the thread that binds them all together. But her dire financial conditions render her helpless most of the times. The story takes a different turn when Nariman fractures his leg. Here commences the game of passing the buck . We are lead into the murky past of the Contractor family.
Roxana 's husband Yezad is the angle of bravado. He epitomises the spirit of 'never give up'. But is his resilience rewarded? Roxana and Yezad 's children Murad and Jehangir have a difficult childhood. Their best days are when their dad whistles or mom cooks some thing delicious or setting up a tent in the balcony . But does their childhood survive the erosion at the hands of economics?
The author spins some subsidiary stories around Mr. Kapoor the pseudo intellectual , Daisy the violinist dreaming to be a virtuoso, Edul the ambitious handyman.
At the heart it is the story of the struggles of Nariman and his children.
What is like most about the book (and the author in general) is his language. He is not a Shashi Tharoor who mandates the need of a dictionary nor is he a Chetan Bhagat who makes you feel like gifting him a copy of Wren and Martin . Rohinton Mistry strikes a fine balance( much like his beautiful book :) ) He writes about India and I love books set in India and I adore Indian authors :) People may moan that he himself being a migrant to Canada , has lost the authority to criticize the state in his home country. But I feel the apple does not fall far from the tree. He writes about things which I feel are personal to him. He writes about things close to him and he writes about them with a passion.
The book is captivating and a total page turner. It dwells a lot on the care of an old and infirm person. It brings to light the hardships and resentment in doing so and the emotional guilt in not doing a proper job. It does not preach the correct approach it does not chastise anything. The book just puts the spotlight on some ugly uncomfortable questions .
I could go on writing and advocating Family Matters. The sweetest songs are indeed the ones that tell of our saddest thoughts.