Title – Ghachar Ghochar
Author –Vivek Shanbhag (Translated from Kannada to English by Srinath Perur)
Date of publishing – February 7, 2017
Publisher – Penguin
My rating – 5/5
(Reading dates – 12/10/2017 to 13/10/2017)
Yesterday, I made my weekly trip to the town’s library to return my previous set of books and borrow the next set. This time I decided to borrow books for light reading such as novels or short stories as I needed a break from serious reading. As my eyes went through racks, I was thrilled to see an Indian author’s book in the shelf. The title read –Ghachar Ghochar. I quickly scanned the barcode on my Goodreads app to see the rating and was happy to see that I has been received well. I began reading the book that very night but soon fell asleep.
Next day –I started all over again only to finish the entire book in one go. That is when I realized that it was a translated version of the Kannada equivalent. Nowhere does it see so. The translator has done a very honest job. Though I secretly wish I had read the book in Kannada simply because its my mother tongue.
The story has been knit around the characters so well that the reader fails to notice that there are undertones for each incident that has simply slipped through the his eyes. In simple words, it is about how the narrator (whose name is not revealed anywhere in the story) ‘s identity, life and family has changed from being poor and simple to affluent and complicated. Somewhere the author is trying to communicate the futility of relationships when money becomes the governing factor. The story has to be read and enjoyed. I am not going to dwell into the story line here.
Below, I am going to explore the climax of the story. Please do not read further if you haven’t read the book yet.
The story ends with the character Anita missing. When I finished the last line of the book, I was desperate to know what happened to her and browsed through all the reviews on Goodreads. None of them revealed anything satisfying. I revisited some specific paragraphs to see if the author has intertwined the climax in the story itself and I strongly feel affirmative. I will list a few of them below-
Hostility of the women in the family except Anita towards Suhasini, the lady who came looking for chikkappa
Family’s attempt to exterminate the ants
Anita’s displeasure about husband not having a well-defined job and her warning about going to the police
Narrator finding someone’s obituary note in Anita’s wardrobe
Chikkappa, Malati and Amma gossiping about the murders in the neighbourhood
Narrator’s hands having blood stains
So the story is not as simple as it is narrated. This is what I arrived at –Anita was an independent woman who had high ideals like her father who was married off to a man from an affluent business-oriented family which was once poor. Anita fought with her husband often expressing her displeasure for having married him. She expressed the same kind of displeasure with other members of the family too. She remained an outsider forever unable to get along with people around her and unable to live up to her ideals. As a husband and a man, the narrator simply felt incomplete. Family, career –reasons could be multi-fold. This collective frustration of everyone in the family led them to think of ways to get rid of her and they apparently succeed.
In my opinion, some characters such as the furious lady in the coffee shop, Chitra and Suhasini don’t exist at all. They all are Anita’s characteristics personified. Also, the last chapter where the family sits together and gossips doesn’t actually exist in the story. It is only a hint to the reader regarding how Anita might have been killed. By superimposing the stories of the neighbourhood on the narrator’s life, it becomes clear that she was either strangled to death by her husband and her corpse was cremated hurriedly or by killed a framed gas explosion or by a framed road accident. The narrator is also clearly involved. The hint lies in the last paragraph of the novel.
Overall, it is a brilliant novel with lot of ghachar-ghochar!