Life is all about ups and downs and it’s how we handle those changes that is important. Sometimes we get so inebriated with success that we forget the struggles we endured. On the other side we become so distraught with our failures that we feel there is no way forward. The balance is a fine line but finding that balance makes a whole world of difference.
Ghachar Ghochar is a beautiful novel written by Vivek Shanbhag in the Kannada language and translated into English by Srinath Perur. It talks about a family that makes the change from just being able to make ends meet to one of a certain richness, courtesy the family business. It’s a family consisting of the protagonist/narrator, his wife, his father and mother, his sister and his father’s younger brother. The family is closely knit but there is that subtle air of discomfort in the way they deal with each other. This is exacerbated by the arrival of Anita, the protagonist’s wife. The narrator finds solace in spending most of his time at the Coffee House, where a bearer named Vincent seems to read his mind quite accurately. I will refrain from any spoilers on the ending.
The novel is short and an easy read but packed with many voices – which speak of the vices of money, which extoll the virtues of having a close family and voices sounding like cries stemming from a deep anguish. I was intrigued by the title and it was quite refreshing to know the meaning of the phrase. It very aptly explains the intricate web of events that transpire in the novel.
I think the author was able to do justice to all of his characters. Being members of the same family, they have been woven into a complex matrix that seems taut but is actually vulnerable even to a small disturbance. We all struggle to keep ourselves close; we are uncomfortable when a new member joins our family; fear rather than hope dominates our thinking. The novel is a stark reminder not to take things for granted. It exhorts us to value family above everything. Money will always be fickle, but relationships should never be.
Ghachar Ghochar is a book very worthy of reading. Vivek Shanbhag has managed to enrapture the readers with a seemingly ordinary novel but is actually extraordinary. I’m giving a rating of 4.5 on 5, only because nothing is perfect.
Written as part of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge – http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/