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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Lessons In Forgetting: A book review



What happens is that if she a woman starts asserting her individuality then the transition (from something else to her own identity) is easy. But someone who subsumes herself into the identity of her husband and allows her other roles to contain her will find it difficult and wouldn't even know how and where to begin.

I know so many women in their mid-30's and sometimes even in their late-20's who start getting this restless feeling and think 'what have I done with myself and where do I begin?' Some of them are even forced to start afresh, alone, like Meera.

I want to be honest with you here. I was knocked out of my slumber when I read Lessons in Forgetting and once I finished reading, I felt I was in the same room as Meera. Never in the recent times have I been touched, amazed, met not imagined as strong a character who remains to be cheerful. I had to re-read certain passages to actually understand if what I felt was true or not.

Anita Nair has a charm for writing and am very impressed with the range of topics she chooses to write about like female infanticide, widow remarriage, empowering women which are a strict no-no for the modernized Indian who loves to stay out of the so called avoidable areas. It takes guts to stand out and write such topics and address them to the audience and yet be commercially successful. It takes a tremendous commitment to come out with such a wonderful rendition to make the characters acceptable in all their blemishes and past and yet be endearing.

Lessons in Forgetting starts with Meera and how her life is set to a timetable, a calender that involves a methodic phase of setting to and how it revolves around the characters in her life her mother, granny, her daughter and son and husband who seem to take her for granted. Now if you think the character of Meera is very similar to a typical housewife whose life is resigned to socialite principles, then you are mistaken. Meera is like the sea - calm, composed and proud but just like the sea, there is a huge chaos of emotions and commotion that is concealed in herself. All hell breaks loose when her husband leaves her for another younger woman and her children start blaming her for it.

At another junction is Jak or J.A. Krishnamoorthy, a professor and expert in cyclones who is in search of some answers about his paralysed daughter who is just a shadow of the cheerful Smriti who met with a near fatal accident. All that JAK knows is that his daughter met with a freak accident in a remote coastal town in Tamil Nadu called Minjikapuram. Police and doctor’s investigations all point fingers at Smriti.A determined JAK decides to trace his daughter’s path on the days that lead to her accident.


Thus starts JAK’s journey to know his daughter which leads him to three of her best friends, friends with their own confused understanding of this girl who outwardly looked confused yet had her own stand on everything. Smriti comes across as an very strong opinionated individual who joins a small theatre group and in all her naivete looks towards changing society and its mores which her friends could never come to terms with. But then, at one point JAK’s search for truth reaches a dead end.

If you are strong enough to realise life isn't as rosy as it looks and can get turbulent in a jiffy just like the sea, then you got to read Lessons In Forgetting. May be you would be able to look at the warnings and predict the cyclone and be better prepared if not prevent it. Or is it all just a myth and you cannot do anything? Lessons in forgetting is not a sad story. It celebrates human spirit and shows how you can be victorious even in life's worst cyclones. All you need is just a cajoling support, few kind words and a determination not to let yourself give up. Life may not always be as colorful as you dreamt of but all you need is just a tinge of white hope to paint on a dark canvas.

Rating: 4/5.

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