Pages

Monday, September 25, 2006

"Family Matters"

There are some books you don't like but still read through because they are supposed to be very famous, very good. There are others which you love and recommend to friends. And there are still others which move you to tears and for a long time after you have finished reading it, sitting on the bed alone in your room, you dont want anybody to look into your eyes for fear of ridicule. It's not that you cant hold back your tears, it's just that you want to give in, you want to cry. And you know the beauty of the story that I am talking about, it's not a tragedy, in fact its far from what you would call a tragedy or even a sad story per se. It's very commonplace , almost mundane in its spirit, yet seen through the eyes of one Rohinton Mistry even everyday occurences take the hue of magical appearences.

If Such a Fine Balance swept you of your feet due to its attention to details and the vast scope at the same time and the imbalance between hope and despair in the lives of its characters, Family Matters brings out perhaps all the emotions you can ever feel: love, hate, anger, compassion, hope, greed, pride, pity, despair, scorn..... I can't even name them. It's the story of a family, an old man, Nariman Vakeel, afflicted with Parkinson's, his two step children Jal and Coomy, both unmarried living in a big house with him, his daughter Roxanna living in a cramped house with her husband Yezad and two schoolgoing boys Jehangir and Murad. When a turn of events forces Nariman to stay with his daughter Roxanna in her little flat, it not only puts to test their financial and material resources but most importantly their spirit. What follows is as intricate and magical (I can't stop using this word!) a description of "family matters" as ever could be. From Murad's coming home on foot for days to save the bus fare for his little brother's Christmas gift, to Jehangir holding his grandfather's hand in the middle of the night while the old man is tormented in his sleep with memories of the death of his beloved Lucy and his wife Yasmin, from Yezad's realisation that in the end a little compassion is all we need to live in this mad world to Roxanna's ever ageing envelopes marked "Bread & Butter", "Electricity" and the likes in to see through the month, from Jal's guilt having failed to stand up to his sister's verdict to Coomy's anger and frustration with life, Family Matters makes you smile and cry at the same time, makes you marvel at the beauty of life itself, of bondage and the complicacies of human relations.

It reminded me of my grandfather and his death. It was sudden. The doctors called it a bolt from the blue. Through Nariman, I could almost hear my Nana speak. The way Jehangir became terrified and saddened by Yezad and Roxanna's fights reminded me of the ones which my parents had during my childhood which shook the world around me.

Family Matters is a beautiful novel, one to be treasured forever, one which I would recommend everyone to read. Don't expect anything dramatic. The novel progresses predictably except for the end where a few coincidences change its shape distinctively. Read it for the simple joy of reading, read it to know all the emotions that exist, emotions we could forget feeling if not reminded.

3 comments:

balaji said...

Sahi .. I tried calling you today asking you what next book to read .... I finally bought Richard Branson's Biography today ... and just when I was about to start reading it ... I read your blog ... Nevermind .. I shall keep it for some other day ... :)

psuedonym said...

havent read your blog in ages, btu came back toady, and YAAY!! you reviewed on of my favourite booka and did a great job too :))

nandeeta said...

i still remember
'my father, my son and the food i made.'
the most simple line but a wealth of feeling in it.