Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Book Review - Child / Currency By Ketan Bhagat

The book is a roller coaster of emotions through the downward spiral that life pulls the protagonist through. The glimmer of hope discovered in spirituality and the surreal ending is woven really well into the storyline.

The length of the book does come in the way as there are swathes of avoidable pages in the mix. However, it is understandable to some extent as sometimes it can be as difficult for an author to part with a single word he has written, just like it is difficult for the protagonist to part for a single moment from his child.

The language of the text is colloquial north Indian English, which makes it feel almost like the narration of a hearty tale by a Punjabi uncle on a long train ride. Yet in the midst of all the Hinglish conversations, you also get whacked in the face with a phrase like 'Sic Transit Gloria Mundi' that takes you unawares.

What is brought out really well in the book is the day to day story of any long standing marriage, tottering along on an endless path like parallel rail tracks, neither coming together nor moving apart. Every emotion and dialog is relatable to the daily humdrum you can hear emanating from any random house in your building.

The story lends itself to a parallel narrative of The Geeta's philosophy of the struggle against those who are nearest and dearest to us, the understanding of the helplessness of mortals against the wheels of time and karma, the realization that spirituality is not something to be understood, not even experienced, but rather something to be surrendered to. The one nagging doubt about why the protagonist does not then practice detachment, as taught in The Geeta, from the one thing leaving him beholden to the antagonist, is subtly explained away near the end.

The story starts out with an exuberant celebration of neo-feminism in the words of Preyas' speech and slowly and mercilessly unravels the bitter truth of the hollow words through Prakriti's later actions.

The one missing part in the book is the perspective of the other side as there is absolutely no exploration of Prakriti's character, except through Shreyas' eyes, which results in painting a one dimensional individual driven solely by greed and hatred, rather than bringing out the possibility of a complex character who is herself driven by doubts, guilt, circumstances, aspirations and helplessness.

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