THE STORY OF A BRIEF MARRIAGE
Author: Anuk Arudpragasam
Publisher: Fourth Estate (imprint of Harper Collins)
Price: Rs 499
Dinesh is a young man who has survived the civil war in Sri Lanka and escaped the eyes of the establishment that has sent every fit and healthy man to fight the war. He has also survived the daily shelling that kills and maims many. While living in a temporary camp near a clinic, he is approached by a man with a strange request — strange for such turbulent times.
The man asks him to marry his daughter Ganga. The young girl, who lost her mother and brother to the war, also lives in the camp and volunteers at the clinic to tend to the wounded and help the staff, just like Dinesh. And so begins The Story of a Brief Marriage.
The author, Anuk Arudpragasam, gives away the tone of book with the title — ‘brief marriage’. It is a very unlikely term for an upbeat story. However, the word ‘brief’ translates into a day in the book and is explained in great detail. Every incident, every act — something as basic as a scene of a man taking a bath — runs over many pages. For an impatient reader, it might seem like a never-ending description. For a reader who loves to explore every detail of an act, the surrounding, the past and the present, this novel is a piece worth treasuring. There are times when the detailing overtakes the storyline and it’s difficult to reconnect if you are not reading this book in one sitting.
And that is where the author has shown some bravery, because not everyone can take a risk like that. Arudpragasam’s ability to portray human emotions and behaviour has brought the two characters to life in a very natural way. You would think you know Dinesh and Ganga for ages, the way they would react or what they would say next.
Overall, this book is that kind of a novel that l
eaves you with an after-taste of the character’s life — secretly wishing there was more to this ‘brief marriage’ and in happier shades.
This book review has also appeared in Sakal Times, February 12, 2017’s edition. Click here to go to that page on their website.