Author: Perumal Murugan
Total Pages: 240
Total approximate words: 71000
The novel was originally written in Tamil, and then translated in English. I am guessing, the Tamil read would be more tantalizing, because I firmly believe, some of the original beauty gets lost in translation. Having said that, the version that I read, has been quite a treat too.
The story revolves around a couple who were married for twelve years and were childless, despite all their efforts in pleasing all kinds of gods, and trying every available means. The setting of the story is in the pre independence era in a remote village in the south of India. The couple despite having no child, were very much in love with each other despite their families encouraging the man to marry again, for the sake of having a child. The man, however, at times thought about getting married again too, because of societal and family pressure, but promised his wife, that only if she liked the other woman, then he will bring her home, otherwise not. But because of his wife’s tantrums, and also for his love towards her, he waived off such thoughts. The families however were so desperate, that they even considered the wife sending to another man in the name of god, just to get her impregnated. Despite Kali the husband, strictly prohibiting the families to even think of such unethical means, the wife’s brother succeeds in deceiving her and makes her believe that Kali was okay with her going to another man in the name of god to have a child. Because of the circumstances, the wife, Ponna doesn’t get an opportunity to verbally hear the consent from her husband, and trusts her brother’s words and reluctantly agrees. After all, that would give them a child, and that is what they both have wanted for so long. The story ends, with Kali discovering that his wife has gone with another man for a night, and abuses her of cheating on him.
The narration has an old-world charm, perhaps because the story is set in the yesteryears. The words used for the most part is easy to understand. The plot is not gritty but it doesn’t get monotonous at any point. The narration is neither fast paced, nor very slow. It is just about apt for a laid-back leisure reading. The character building is diligent and it sincerely tries to take the reader inside the character’s mind, which for me is a personal treat while reading a fiction. On a scale of ten, I would rate this book a good 8.
Disclaimer: This review is based on my personal reading and understanding of the book with my own limited experiences and knowledge. It doesn’t guarantee the same level of satisfaction/ dissatisfaction to other readers and the reviews could vary from individual to individual.