Like the previous novels by author Rohinton Mistry, this one too is set in Mumbai, but I felt that it focuses more on the different layers of life of the culturally rich Parsis through simple words and clever dialogues. Yet, unlike his last novel (A Fine Balance) that focused on the communal ties between the Parsis, Hindus and Muslims, this one just deals with the Parsis- rather a single Parsi joint-family. This is the first book that I have read by this author, but it makes me wish that I could have discovered him earlier.
The story begins when the lead character Nariman Vakeel, a seventy-nine year old man, suffering from Parkinson’s’ disease, who breaks his ankle thus changing his already miserable condition to an unbearable point. The story revolves around the lack of money, dearth of privacy and space and how Nariman is juggled between two families. A plan by his children Coomie and Jal (both unmarried) brings further complications and shows us what levels one can go to, only to attain a bit of peace in their home. On the other hand, Roxane who stays with her husband Yazad and her two brats Murad and Jehangir gives her father a warm welcome and barely manages to accommodate all of them in their small flat. But, soon, as Nariman’s sickness reaches it’s peak and the finances of the already overwrought household dwindle even more, Yazad dabbles into a couple of schemes that go horribly wrong and bring even more misfortune than before.
Apart from the main storyline, I can’t wonder but think about the increasing trend of throwing one’s parents out of their homes as soon as the children settle down. It is unsettling, yet true. I began to get emotionally involved with the characters and felt their joy and pain and the tedium of their lives when the book began to focus on the medical needs of the step father. At the end, Mistry ends up in (more or less successfully) portraying a happy ending for almost all the characters and pleasantly an epilogue to display how their life goes on. Mistry truly does know how to capture the intricate details of the common people and their lives. After all, it is family that matters.
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