Book Review – A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

I closed the book a little after midnight yesterday. My heart was heavy and sleep eluded me. I started the book A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry after I found it in my bookshelf this past Friday. The cover was muted. I read the book in stages. At bedtime. In the evening absent mindedly watching the girls. In the kitchen. By K while he watched TV.

It is one of those books that are solid. A story that features real people. Aspiration, Hope, Despair, Wretchedness, Fear, Loathing, Dreams, Resignation. By the time I was done reading. I was weaving between characters in the story and parallels from real life. What struck me most was the author’s ability to ease you into the background where you remained like a fly on the wall. Watching, observing, mute and helpless against life’s vagaries. As fate strikes each blow, you wince knowing there were more coming. Yet, you stayed. Hoping, praying that protagonist would rise, heal and move on.

I liked the book. Liked it in the way I liked A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. Or Shantaram. Yes. They are laborious to read through. I like them because they truly weave a tale. Connect dots. Deal with primal emotions. And make you think.

So, if you are in the mood for a serious book. Something that will make you flinch. A book that will take you back to those uncomfortable moments in your past when you watched your grandparents use separate plates for the family and the hired help. Or dredge memories of the maimed beggar in tatters rattle past you on a wooden platform each day on your way to the bus stop. Or wonder if the pair of green and wide-eyed villagers on the train with you that one time to the city actually made it big. Then read this book. It will disturb you and it will make you take a deep look at all those little inequalities in life that your brush aside. It may make you close your eyes and take a moment to say thanks. For all that you have. For all that you are.

PS: It is not to say that the book is not without flaws but I have chosen to overlook it.