Book Review: Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry (2001)

Family MattersFamily Matters by Rohinton Mistry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of.

Flipping through the pages, my heart leaped many times; those waves bearing the ring of countenance were from still stream but the ones with ripples of accusation roared thunder. Accusation? Accusation hurled towards whom? The fictional characters delicately brought to life by the stinging brush of the author or the guilty, manipulative, egocentric, conceited character of mine? Did my fingers pause typing these words defining myself? They did. And it also confirmed my worst fears: I am no angel and the pristine white enveloping me is a well-fabricated dwelling that I carry with temporary aplomb, aware somewhere deep inside that some of its bricks are turning cancerous by my vices. 

Why, else, should I feel tormented at the sight of a 78-year old, Parkinson’s afflicted Nariman Vakeel, whose profound literary mind is reduced to a negligible fraction, not by the disease and a broken leg but by the invalidating abandonment of Coomy and Jal, his step-children? Why, else, should I feel torn by the disintegrating domestic fabric of his other daughter, Roxana whose tireless strides of nursing her fragile father come at the cost of her husband, Yezad’s never-seen-before condescension? Why, else, should I feel numbed at the virtues of a nine-year old Jehangir who knows to read the silent whimpers of his grandpa with sensitivity far greater than his parents’? Why else, should I feel jealous of the wasted lottery seller, Villie, who carries behind her shabby attire and even shabbier house, a heart of gold that gladly spills over to brighten her neigbours’ gloomy lives? Why, else, should I envy Husain, the looted peon, who possesses a spirit so much greater than the loss he suffered at the hands of religious fanatics that his volatility alone is his purifying fragrance? Why, else, should I feel staggered at the pouring of Mr.Kapur, whose benevolence weds passion in such fierce ceremony that his employees, Yezad and Husain get absolved of all their sorrows in its pious fire? Why, else, should I feel frozen to witness the eternal nerve of meritoriousness that holds its own in Jal, despite three dominating decades of Coomy’s heedlessness? Why, else, should I stand dwarfed by Nariman who bears the burning thorns on his soul, adamantly barricading their venomous pricks from seeping into his heart and its inhabitants?

When the flute of life suddenly starts belting cantankerous sounds, it is easier to blame the flute maker; the chinks in our playing armour are conveniently swept beneath the carpet. That the sea of life will keep us afloat for a while and then swallow us without exception is a reality that eludes us when we are on shore. It is only the compassionate, who can not only empathize with the unruliness of the sea from afar but also send a boat of good words and deeds to ease the ride for those who are sea-bound next.

A letter is like a perfume. You don’t apply a whole bottle. Just one dab will fill your senses. Words are the same – a few are sufficient.

All days would remain the same if not for an act of kindness or a sliver of smile. Mistry knew it better than many of us. Hence, he did not leave a single chapter in this magnificent book where the beauty of innocence did not bathe us anew or the splendor of solidarity did not shake our shackles. His observations kissed the earthy tones of daily life and enlivened their cells to shine a little. He mixed the odours of past and present and softly pressed the nozzle to fill the future room with a foreign aroma that became our own on touching our skins. He maneuvered with utmost care, almost gracefully imitating Nariman’s movements, not ruffling our senses acutely but with a gentle thrust, like shaking a medicine bottle to get the mix right and placed a few shards of mirror on our palms: they did not cut, they did not intimidate, they simply showed our reflection.

Amazing, how a photo shows you things that your eyes forgot to see.

family interaction

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[Image courtesy http://www.psychologies.co.uk ]

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