Thursday, May 1, 2014

Book Review- The better man by Anita Nair

There is something about this book that made me want to write this review as soon as I finished reading it. I have always been a fan of Anita Nair's works and have loved her other works like Ladies Coupe, Mistress, Cut like wound and Lessons in forgetting. What catches my interest is that all her books have a soul, something that you can relate to. The better is no different. It is a beautifully written book which talks of relationships and the power it wields.

Though this book is the first novel written by her, I got to reading this only after I had read and already fallen in love with her other books. Set in a tranquil village, Kaikurussi of Northern Kerala, the book tells the story of Mukundan and his confidante, Bhasi or One screw loose Bhasi as he is popularly known among the villagers. Bhasi is a housepainter by profession and a healer by vocation. A retired Government employee, Mukundan is forced to return to his village that he detests. That is filled with ghosts, with memories that he wants to flee. 

It is only when Bhasi pursues Mukundan to open up to him, to break down the walls that he had so carefully surrounded himself with, does he begin to cleanse Mukundan's memories. To lay to rest the memories that haunt him. We are introduced to a lot of other characters as well- Achuthan Nair, Mukundan's dominating father, Paru Kutty, his timid mother, who still blames him for her death through his dreams, Krishnan Nair, the caretaker who treats Mukundan with the affection of an uncle and brother, Anjana, the school teacher with whom he falls in love later on in the story. 

A lot of other characters and their stories which fascinated me are Kamban, a lower caste Harijan, who works as the post master in Kaikurussi. Feared to be Odiyans,they were said to be armed with black magic. Then there is Shankar who runs a teashop around which all the gossip of Kaikurussi are dissected. Che Kutty, who runs the toddy shop, Power house Ramakrishnan, a comman man turned whose fate changes when he wins a lottery ticket. A scheming businessman whose selfish motives changes the life of Mukundan and Bhasi. There is Meenakshi, Mukundan's childhood sweetheart who is now married. Then there is Valsala, a woman who comes into Mukundan's life due to a mix up of telephone lines. Valsala, who reminds him of his mother, whose eyes are devoid of any feelings. Valsala, who waits for Gandharvas under the Pala tree. There is also 

The book is sprinkled with a lot of interesting characters that I wished had some more space to tell their stories. Bhasi's wife, Damayanti, is portrayed as a strong woman, an enigma. A widow when Bhasi first met her, she changes his life forever.

Unless I stop now, I am in great danger of actually retelling the entire story. I am going to stop now, so that you can enjoy the book for yourself and experience the magic that I felt. All in all, a beautifully well written book. I would definitely give it a five on five.The only drawback I felt was that there was a scope for a lot of these characters to develop. But then, if you knew all about them, then it would have deviated from the main story. I would have loved to get more insights into the minds of these other characters of Kaikurussi. 

A must must read! I simply loved this one. It shows the magic in a mundane life and the value of relationships and loyalty.

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