The Hero's Walk-Anita Rau Badami

Having read (and enjoyed) Badami's first book Tamarind Woman, I was very eager to read her sophomore novel, though with the apprehension that this one may also be in the same lines of woman trying to erase her past. Thankfully I was proved wrong.

Sripathi, a middle aged copywriter, has always settled down for something less than what he expected. His already ordinary and complaining life, suffers a severe blow when his estranged daughter (Maya) and son-in-law expire in an accident in faraway foreign land. All he's left with is his guilt, repentance for egotism, and a 7-year old grand-daughter who becomes unintentionally mute by the unforeseen tragedy. The rest of the story is how each person in the grief-stricken family fights the loss.

Now, the story-line sounds deceptively average, what with the mundane characters like succumbing-to-the-husband's-ego type wife and acid-tongued-attention-seeking-80 plus granny. But again when it comes to etching the characters in an impeccable manner Badami wins hands down.

Nirmala is the submissive wife of Sripathi. There's Putti the not-so-young sister and Ammayya the grit and greedy mother of Sripathi. So unsympathetic is she that on the death of her grand daughter Maya, she broods petulantly that her daily routine should not be affected in anyway. "Love was an extravagance that Ammayya could ill afford", describes the author of her rigid and tyrannical behaviour. She turns down all marital alliances seeking Putti, for fear of she being left alone.

Arun is the ascetic society conscious son of Sripathi & Nirmala. Yeah, you guessed it right.. his ideolgies are disliked by the family especially the dad. However he's the only solace for 7 year old Nandana, (Maya's daughter) who arrives in India and finds everything quaint and puzzling. Whenever the narration is from the viewpoint of the little girl, the understated melancholy would touch a chord.

The whole story revolves around Toturpuram. (Now this failed to make sense to me. Why would the author create a fictional town?, while all the street names and localities bear obvious semblance to an existing town)

I found the title of the book very interesting. Though Sripathi is the central character and the term "hero" is usually a reference to the male protagonist, there is room for assumption as to who the hero actually is, in this story. (Remember, some people do accept Ravana as the hero in Ramayana!). The way each character decides to move on with life is quite interesting and who the hero actually is, is left for you to read and figure out.

The narration takes the form of high drama (Chetan Bhagatish) towards the end, and this really let me down. I guess it was added for a dosage of humour. Nevertheless, the book promises an interesting read. I would give 3/5.

9 comments:

eye-in-sty-in said...

No books for me! i'm outta patience (or is it time)?

couchpapaya said...

can any grandmother be like that? sounds different .... as for making up a town, maybe the author felt she couldnt write with authority on any existing town, i feel some nri authors might do this when they may not be able to do research.

sakhi said...

nice review.. i might not read it but i love the reviews and like getting the jist of the book. I hardly get time these days and i miss the books but such is life!!

And hey, the new theme looks nice! :)

Vee said...

Hmmm, not so unusual story I felt. May be the way it told would be nice. And CB-ish kinda stuff towards the end would be to appease few readers I guess. Making up a town when such exist... liberty I guess.

Smita said...

Hmmm Am still looking out for the Tamarind Mem...

After reading your review I called my book store, the poor fellow has found the authors latest book which is costing 495/-

I have now asked him to search for these. I found them on flipkart but again very expensive :-(

The storyline of this one looks interesting...would love to read it..

Good to see a book review from u after ages...

BTW I guess it is Rau not Rao...I stumbled across her website :-)

Bouncing-Bubble said...

EISI!
I guess its both!

CP!
Hv amended a bit... I was just wondering why she has just changed the name of the locality. That grandma character is the most effectively portrayed one actually.

Sakhi!
Thank you. FOr want of time I've been returning SO many books unread!

Vee!
Liberty, yes... and yeah this lady has a way with words and her reading is pretty impressive.. ( and she looks gorgeous, check out!!)

Smi!
Oh thanks, I would amend the mishhtake in name.
I'm going to watch out for her books... I am tempted to compare her with CBD. You're sure to like her style as well. what's her latest book/. I shd check that out..

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avdi said...

Um Um Um.. So many books and so little time :(

Your book reviews are always a delight.

Anand said...

Is it? I'll see if I like it too.
Currently though, I'm hooked on to Matthew Reily. He is mind blowing. FI u like action paced novels..he is the one.