‘A Fine Balance’ by Rohinton Mistry might have been shortlisted for Man Booker Prize in 1996 and won Giller Prize, but not many ‘Reading Lists’ included in their ‘Best Readings’ which is such a shame.
This book was not on the initial list of books that I wanted to read this year. Thanks to ‘Independent’, if not for their recommendation, I would have missed an excellent read with such memorable characters.
Book #: 8
Book: A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
The description of the book says ‘set in the backdrop of The Emergency’ which was the prime reason for me to select this book. Even though the book doesn’t extensively focus on the direct events evolved during that specific period, it compensates or even more overwhelms you with a brilliant story.
The book narrates the lives of four key characters who can technically be pointed on four different quarters a graph plotted on age and affluence. As the story evolves, all of them reach a level plane and extends into the third dimension of Hope.
The story is a lot about despair and just when you thought, the world could only get better, it worsens even further for the lead characters. You empathize for each character equally.
Two essential features of this book are: most memorable characters forced into circumstances you witness in your daily life.
Key characters: Dina Dalal, Maneck Kohlah, Ishvar Darji and Om Prakash
But, each and every character comes with a backstory to ridicule the reader’s tendency to be judgmental.
Some of the characters worth mentioning: Avinash, Ashraf Chacha, Beggar Master, Dhunki, Narayan, Nusswan, Rustom, Thakur Dharmasi, Rajaram, Shankar, Ibrahim, Segeant Kesar and other who might actually meet at the corner of your street. And then there is ‘The Prime Minister’ and her Son.
The events stick with you too: The Emergency, The Evacuation and Beautification of Slums, The Family Planning Camps, The Irrigation Project workers and then The Untouchability.
The most relevant event even for the present day: slum people moved in buses for political meetings.
At the end of the day, ‘TIME’ is what changes everything and might not be simply categorized into being Good or Bad but as described in the book:
“Time is the twine to tie our lives into parcels of years and months. or a rubber band stretched to suit our fancy. Time can be a pretty ribbon in a little girl’s hair. Or the lines in your face, stealing your youthful colour and your hair. But in the end, time is a noose around the neck, strangling slowly.”
Recommended: MUST READ.