Shubha Sarma captures the spirit and nerve of an Indian Joint family in Awasthis of Aamnagri
Awasthis of Aamnagri
Author- Shubha Sarma
By Shubh Mathur
In the dusk of their career, many IAS officers attempt to write books, most falling into the non-fictional genre for they are an account of their personal experiences written for the admirers and aspirants of civil services. To know that the writer of this fictional novel is a member of administrative services herself was an instant surprise and a trigger for me to pick it up, and, thankfully, I was not disappointed.
Set in the backdrop of 1975, the story (collection
of stories) revolves around an elite joint family of lawyers headed by the progressive
patriarch and the protagonist- Pandit Dinanath Awasthi. The book explores the
relationships between the members of the house in an old fashioned way bringing
all our conceived notions into the picture. Interestingly, the stories are also
a satirical comment on various matters- how we, sometimes, take relationships
for granted, believe in godman more than rationale and wreak havoc on the
biodiversity for petty material gains.
There are many ways in which the reader would be able to relate to the stories.
For example- the subtle aspects of the relationship between the mother-in-law
and the daughters-in-law, the reception of an NRI family, and the power tussles
between the sons of the house.
To make things easier for the
readers of English, the book deserves special mention for giving out a glossary
of some local Hindi terms. The narrative is concise and entirely captivating
with none loose ends. Especially, the last story- ‘Mataji’s Quietitude’ is the
one to be mentioned. It is about those internal dissenting voices that slowly
turn a joint family into segregated nuclear families- the fate of the majority
of big families today. The author has skillfully captured the loneliness of the
elder members that languish in the absence of companionship. As real as it can
get, it is equally rousing, sweet, and funny.
To sum up, the book will make
up an interesting read for both- those who have gotten grey and wish for a dose
of nostalgia and the high school kids looking to explore a lively joint family
in the era of 2020.