A gentle read for bedtime

2011-02-23 00:00

I FOUND this novel to be quite existentialist in that it deals with the ordinary lives of three individuals and nothing climactic ever happens. However, the novel’s style keeps the reader involved in the everyday life of Bombay’s middle-class citizens over the period of a year.

Mohan is a letter writer and aspiring writer. He spends his time observing life and the little beautiful details and intimacies that are often caught by an artist’s eye. He is married to Lakshmi and his continuous withdrawal into his own world causes their marriage to sustain some difficulties. Lakshmi­ is unhappy and feels that after their children left home her husband stopped paying her any attention. She keeps herself busy by watching soapies and continuing with her domestic chores.

They both feel a sense of relief when their 19-year-old nephew, Ashish, comes to live with them for the year. Ashish is a closet homosexual who has to repeat his final year at university­. He suffers bouts of depression­ and finds comfort in the home of his aunt and uncle. He has a short relationship with a rich boy and when their relationship ends he is plunged deeper into his depression. After this he develops feelings for his much older English tutor who is a professor­. He finds himself falling in love, but this relationship also suddenly ends.

Lakshmi then leaves her husband to take care of an ill relative and this makes Mohan question whether their marriage is over. The time apart helps him to refocus his priorities and when she returns a month later their relationship looks more promising. This novel had a very calming effect on me and I read it before going to bed every­ night. The writing is lovely and being involved in the everyday mundane lives of other people can be an eye opener.

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