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July 05, 2014

Book Review: A Town Like Ours

Text by Nittal Chandarana

Verve reviews Kavery Nambisan’s A Town Like Ours and finds that it is an unadulterated peek into the average human mind

The Read: A Town Like Ours
Author: Kavery Nambisan
Publisher: Aleph Book Company

Rural record: The story is narrated by Kumari, a prostitute of the quaint village of Pingakshipura, that compulsively bends its head of uniformly silver hair to goddess Pingakshi. We plunge headfirst into the twisted lives of its residents, harmless and simple at face value, but quietly nurturing grey temperaments. There’s Manohar and Kripa, the childless but cultured couple. The fierce Saroja, her unlikely companion Sampathu, and their children upon whom this siblinghood is forced and in turn, resent it. All this comes together to make a biting narrative. The characters are well etched-out and dynamic. Although vividly told, the story never lets us forget that we are visualising the goings-on of the protagonists through the screen of Kumari’s eyes.

Village belle: We can’t seem to make up our minds. There’s Saroja, enterprising and audacious but on the other hand, we have Kripa, who provides much-needed stability and maturity. These women are complete contrasts but each effortlessly manages to hold her own throughout the book. As every woman should.

Struck a chord: ‘“You were beautiful. Like royalty.”
“You had – you still have – lovely skin.”
She went away…I smiled to myself for the rest of the day. Women never tire of these rare compliments that we give each other.’ Is the truth.

Maybe Not: A whole lot of description and tangled thoughts sprawled across the book. We understand that these are rantings of Kumari’s mind but they occasionally seemed to come in the way of the narrative.

Verdict: Pfft. Taste is subjective. We have to admit, it’s a brave book. It’s also uncensored; not in the language department but the department of thought. Not our cup of tea, but read it for an unadulterated peek into the average human mind. We’re quite a devilish species.

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