Thursday, 10 September 2015

Em and the Big Hoom - Jerry Pinto

Date of Reading: 08/08/2015
Author: Jerry Pinto
Publisher: Aleph
Place: New Delhi
Year: 2012
Rating: 4/5
From: An owl eyed friend 

          Not the usual kind that I pick from a book store. For one thing its on depression (blimey! clearly in my 'not-to-think-about-it' list) and to make it worse its advertised with the comments of two well known writers who are not my favourites -- Amitav Ghosh and Kiran Desai. But the cover looked appealing and so were the words inside; besides it was a birthday present. Definitely something that I have to give a try.
           And I took an instant liking to Imelda or Em as she is called throughout the story. She has her worst moments but when she regains her socially-detached-I am a critic mode, her words shatters everything, never missing its mark. And that forms the beauty of the text and dispelling our fears of a tragedy it glides smoothly into a story of family and relationships.

           Pinto is endowed with an enchanting style and the images he creates haunt you even after the final page and the sweet-bitter taste it delivers remain for a long time. But the publisher or the layout man deserves a huge deal of applause too. The special fonts, the designs at the beginning of each chapter and the dark purple colour surrounding the borders make the book all the more special. A new take on mental illness and trust me, this won't make you depressed. . .
           Mendes family, consisting Imelda, Augustine and their two children Susan and the narrator, lives in a one-bed room-hall-kitchen in Mahim, Bombay. Imelda or Em as she is called, suffers from frequent maniac depressions and the novel is framed on how her family copes with this situation.
         From her letters and her sometime sensible talks narrator manages to stitch together her story. She was the bread winner of her family and she marries Augustine who is also her co-worker after a long courtship. She refers to him as LOS - Limb of Satan - as according to her he makes her sin. For his children Augustine is the Big Hoom, the pillar of their otherwise crumbling family. Without lamenting on the condition of his family, he takes care of everyone silently permeating hope that makes them survive.
 In spite of her hurting words everyone loves Em and keep vigil on her bad days. Their days go on in this tireless routine with Em sometimes attempting suicide or getting her hospitalized where she feels herself at home. Narrator too often haunted with the fear that he too might eventually end up like his mother. 
         Story comes to a halt when Em dies of a heart attack. Mendes family gradually returns to a quiet routine without her.

Something to ponder. . .

"We confess to men who've never had to worry about a family. Naturally, it's a huge sin to them, this abortion business. What do they know? They probably think it's fun and games. Let them try it." - 5

"We were told that men were dangerous. Unpredictable. Violent. You could never be sure what would happen if you were alone with them. They could not be relied on if they had had something to drink. A girl had to be ready for anything. Then, as soon as you were all ready to get married, the same people told you: close the door and be his wife." - 158

1 comment:

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