Being Good Enough- Gripping Contemporary Indian Novel
When you grab a book, it entices with you by it’s cover and blurb. Being good enough, a debut novel of Rohini Paranjpe Sathe ticks all the checkboxes for you to get this book from the shelf. Vibrant shades of colors of dusk with a classic Mumbai skyline catches your eye. Blurb says it’s a story of Jyoti who’s living a hard life in a small chawl in the city of Mumbai with her son. Struggling to keep the ghosts from her past far away from herself and her son. However, those ghosts show up at their doorsteps disrupting her life in Mumbai.
Story opens up the door of the past and starts telling us what these ghosts are. Glimpse from Jyoti’s early life in a wealthy influential family of Delhi opens wide the story of these ghosts from the past. Completely in accordance with Murphy’s law, anything that can go wrong, will go wrong, Jyoti keeps getting surprises at every corner and struggle continues. If you want to know how it ends, what happens with those ghosts from the past, you should not wait to pick this book as your next read.
Coloured in the shades of religious divide, dirty politics, youthful love affairs and “khandaan ki ijjat” book is full of drama and reads quickly. Story is so gripping and enticing that it becomes really difficult to keep the book away if you have some work to get done. Even though it’s the debut novel of Rohini Sathe, it never shows up in the book. She is a master storyteller.
Places, Characters and Writing
Sathe has structured lives from both the worlds with finnes. One is posh affluent Delhi families and other is close-knit community of Chawls in Mumbai. Story goes back and forth in time and space. It travels between Jyoti’s present residence of Mumbai and her past home in Delhi. Jyoti’s Delhi times is full of religious divides, social stigmas around love affairs, a trap marriage with gay man. While for Mumbai, we read about life in a chawl. It’s characterized with helpful neighbours, their bonding, constraint of space, common activities of community, their daily routine, etc.
Another strong point is the characterization and the relations they share. We can’t put every human in black or white. Life is full of grey areas. All of the characters in this book show this grey tint as the story unfolds. Sometimes, black part flares up when provoked by religious divide or power struggle. Even a fierce fighter in Jyoti takes a step back with compassion at a couple of moments. The bond of friendship shared by Jyoti and her husband in the trap marriage is a nice touch. It shedes some light on the LGBTQ+ community and stigma which our society has around it. These spectrums of emotions make Sathe’s characters more humane.
I would definitely recommend this book if you are interested in reading a contemporary Indian story. If this fast paced, gripping tale of fierce Jyoti is not Good Enough reason to pick up “Being Good Enough” then I am not sure what will be. So, don’t waste time and grab your copy here.