Still Reading: A Suitable Boy

The truth of this post is that I have nothing interesting to say. Let me list the reasons for thee:

• I lead a boring life that is devoid of globe trotting, pub hopping, smoking grass at random rock concerts, and making out with strangers.
• I have already opined about the only movie I have seen recently in the comments section of your journal.
• Those of you who are not talking about Guru on your journal are not talking at all and hence, I have no ideas to copy.
• I have been reading the same book for the last three months!

Enough it enough! I will now stop carrying my laptop back and forth and carry the book instead. The book has 591,552 bloody words. And they are interesting, damn it!

Reading “A Suitable Boy” is a fine panoramic experience. I should have picked up this book during the summer holidays back in school. Yes, it is the kind of book you attach to your hand (only in this case, your hand is sure to fall off by the end of the first day!) and carry on reading while your folks glare at you on the lunch table. Vikram Seth impresses me with every new chapter. The book is a saga that sprawls over four families, well mainly four families. Many important characters from outside the four families get introduced in every other chapter. Seth goes into a detailed character description of each one of them and this is how he awes me. The four families account to around 23 characters and then there are people these characters meet. The interesting part is that despite the huge number and great depth in which these characters are covered, the reader remembers each one of them distinctly. So while you are reading the seventh chapter that is set in Calcutta and your friend mentions Harsh, a character who briefly met you in some previous chapter set in Brahampur, you remember. It all comes back to you instantly. So well is the job done by Seth.

Another interesting bit is the knowledge of varied areas that Seth displays. Of course, he is a proven author and one expects nothing but the most accurate details about each subject he touches upon in his book but he still managed to surprise me with the vast and significantly dissimilar areas. Seth talks about the dynamics of the local shoe market of Brahmpur, the post-partition politics, the dramatic emotions of a courtesan, the desperation of an aging mother, the strong will of a young woman who has grown up behind the purda, the glitterati of upper-middle class of Calcutta, an average north-Indian family, a dysfunctional family, confusions of a lovelorn looser, brilliance of a little kid and much-much more with a wonderful perception and great sensitivity. Not only is his research remarkable, his understanding of how different minds work is also very astonishing. The good part is that this vastness offers something special for each reader. While I may swoon with happiness while reading about the romantic escapades of Lata, you could clap with glee at the end of every racecourse scene or sigh contently when Saeeda Bai recites a beautiful couplet in Urdu.

I know I am repeating myself but Seth has drawn every single character of his book very beautifully. What is more that you can actually relate to some characters…I mean, you may not be a Lata or a Meenakshi, or even a Kabir, but you have definitely known someone like them. If you are a north Indian, you have to have crossed paths with a Mrs. Rupa Mehra. Her letters to her children remind me of some letters I have received from my grand parents. Characters come and pass by your view and you nod happily and smile every time. They are not in a hurry. Yes, Seth takes time to describe small and seemingly insignificant details about hundreds of characters but you do not mind it. You do not mind it because these details are fun and you love them for what they are. Each section of the book is a witty gem in itself.

If nothing else, one must read this book for the sheer joy of getting to know Mrs. Rupa Mehra, the most lovable character who gets under your skin every now and then. Yeah, I am still not half way through it but I am shamelessly recommending this book to anyone and everyone who has not already read it. As the author himself says,
Buy it before good sense insists,
You’ll strain your purse and sprain your wrists.


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