A Book With Many Answers
Though a seasoned journalist himself, CY Gopinath has overstepped the construct of modest polemics to write one of the most remarkable satires that equally touches both the political and social realm with placing an individual at the forefront. What I liked most in this novel, the quest of protagonist, Patros Patranobis for an ordinary yet satisfying life with his wife, Rose and son, Tippy which he has not fathered. But sudden arrival of a mysteriously unusual The Book of Answers as a legacy from a long-dead ancestor brings tectonic shift in his personal as well as in the political and social atmosphere around him.
Despite realising the extraordinary potential of the book, proposition to sale it to a scrapper leaves a beautiful metaphor of an ordinary life that can be still opted by few over the market-bound hyper-commercial life. In some way, it gives hope for life outside of corrupt nexus. The grabbing of supernaturally efficient The Book of Answers by godmen and passing of its wisdom to the most ruthless character of democracy, politician Ishwar Prasad exactly points out the Orwellian syndrome of “might is only right”. Rest ahead is fine narratives of a democracy with the institutions of flawed governance; though the inferred value of this novel will be universally relevant but in Indian contexts, it matches amazingly. Ethics in Indian politics have remained obstinately low without even slightly distracting by the “hyped magic” of economic reform.
Arrival of the real master of the book, Patros to check the barbaric influences as damage control and further his searches of a key in remote Kerala with witnessing the desperation eventually visualise the end of a symbolic resistance. Such things hardly surprise us now as we have still been living in a social order that was created for forgetting the many humane attributes in the guise of growth. CY Gopinath deserves all praise to unleash the real happenings in political circle and its consistent harm on the collective cognitive psyche. Is this a kind of political system that democracy promises by its instinct? Such erosion of responsiveness from one’s defined or undefined role vehemently juxtaposes the idealistic bearing and themes behind foundation of democracy!
In robustly dynamic time, few have patience to read the books like Aldus Huxley’s Brave new World which predicted the potential happenings of years ahead. What is viable in the present time to know the shifting of scenes around in a simple and lucid expression, where this book succeeded with immaculate dedication of the author to adding many positive changes to his surroundings. Maybe such idealism proceeds or not but there will be no denying that a chunk of humanity will keep striving with intrinsic impulses instead of enforced pressures.
Indian English writing is passing through a very productive phase, this work strengthens such a notion with benign readability and indeed delving with the big systemic issues backed by real zeal and not only for grimacing on oddities we face regularly. India as a nation is experimenting with antagonistic ideas; it’s really hard and daunting in this scenario for any writer to interpret things without reaching out to the end of conclusion. Fortunately, The Book of Answers has conclusion for its readers who can feel the resentment of the system through words albeit they will simply not stop enjoying the satire!
By Atul Kumar Thakur