15 December 2012

The Illicit Happiness of Other people

In this world it is very hard to escape happiness.

At different points of life we have found happiness evasive and here is a book which just suggests the opposite. It is not a non-fiction, philosophical or self-healing book which leads you to a spiritual path. At the sound of it – it is just a story of a family of four where they try to decipher the sudden death of their son – but in reality it is a very extraordinary story where each character is like piece of a big jigsaw puzzle, a small piece of the bigger picture.

The family of Chakos has Ousep, the alcoholic news reporter father, Mariamma, the mother who talks to the walls, Thoma, the younger son at the brink of adulthood and Unni the elder son, a cartoonist and whose death is the big Question. The search for these answers brings forth more interesting characters of Mythilli, Philipose, Dr Iyenger, Balki, Sai, Beta, a man who thinks he is a dead body, a woman who has taken a n oath never to speak, and many more. Each of them add substance to the story and the plot. There are times when you feel that the answer is very obvious but somehow you are unable to figure out. What is the point of wandering to all those people trying to figure out what, how, when, who and where. But when you reach the end – you realize that nothing in this world is as obvious as it seems. Like the saints say – it is the journey and not the end.
There are so many subtle subjects in the book which we all can relate to at some level. We all have at some moment tried to wonder about life, its purpose, the worldly illusions and moral choices. But there were no answers. This book takes you to a different level, where you stop wondering but start feeling.

Anyways enough about the plot, I want to write about the AUTHOR – MANU JOSEPH - a brilliant writer and thinker. This story could be an ordinary story of retribution and life but Manu Joseph does not believe in that. He brings in the most contradictory elements of cartooning, psychiatry, family, puberty and philosophy to create a hell of a story. There are many heavy terms and serious conditions of psychiatry used in this book. It could be difficult to handle in a fiction without sounding depressive and dark. But Manu handles all of this very smoothly, making the story as objective as possible without burdening the reader with his own opinions. He leaves it to the reader to read, understand and figure their own interpretation. Hats off to Manu on his master piece. This goes a notch higher than ‘Serious Men'.

Few lines from the book:

The most foolish description of the young is that they are rebellious. The truth is that they are a fellowship of cowards.
The city is full of terrible actors. That is what historians never say about Madras, it is filled with hams.

"When mothers first began to sing lullabies they did it to mourn the birth of their babies. Thoma, even today, in some African tribes, lullabies and funeral songs are the same." Now that Thoma is older, he knows that when people want to con you they bring in the African tribes.

Men do things. We can't help it. That's all there is to it. As you will discover in time, the primary choice every man has to make is whether he wants to be himself or if he wants peace.

Could it be that thoughts are truly the corrupt dominant species of the world that have colonized man, relentlessly mutating into increasingly complex ideas and making him do things so that they can finally intrude into the material world as marvelous objects.

Morality was probably the invention of unattractive men. Whom else does it benefit really.

A mad person transfers his delusion to another person, and both of them begin to see the same delusion. And they mutually corroborate what they see as true. This is the Folly of Two.

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