Nari – Sharath Komarraju

Rating: 4/5

Nari came out before the Hastinapur series, but I’m reading it now, well after I have read The Rise of Hastinapur and appreciated how adept Sharath Komarraju is at putting word after word and weaving a story with panache. From Nari to his latest book, Sharath Komarraju has evolved in his writing tremendously.

Nari is well-written, but it has a sense of disconnect between some of the scenes being portrayed, and there is too much mention of sexual escapades in it, to my liking (hence the 4 stars. Would have been 5 otherwise). As I started the book, I thought that maybe books like these need the explicitness to spread awareness, and by the end of the book, I was convinced. The book gives out, in no unclear terms, the long standing and ignored fact that men can be victims of rape as much as women. We need to take it seriously that not all men are hounds and not all women are angels.

Nari has some hard-hitting revelations in the first few pages. You begin to hate the character but as the story unfolds and facts are revealed, you begin to second-guess your earlier opinions. It very plainly puts forward the fact that when one is used to being mistreated, it shows how they get used to being thrown around, and how it becomes a part of their life. You start feeling sorry for them, and also maybe condone some of their actions.

In the midst of all this, Sharath Komarraju has woven the story so well, filled the characters so well, that about 60 pages into the story, and you’ll find yourself not trusting any character’s actions/reactions. You find yourself searching for a backstory to their different shades.

The best part of the book, according to me, is how every character is unpredictable in whatever he/she does. And it all comes back to the same thing: You do not know how to feel towards a character; any character. It’s like you have a love-hate relationship with every one of them. The moment you expect one of them to do something, they change course and do something completely unexpected. And that’s what brings the thrill – What happens next? What will he do? Will she stand up to him? Will he escape her? Just tell me more!

Komarraju has the ability to incite disgust in a reader’s heart at the repulsive actions of a character. It is a measure of how much you begin to sympathize or empathize with one that you start praying for the other to just keel over and drop dead.

“Once a person becomes an intimate part of your life, I don’t think it is possible to ever let them go. They leave a part of themselves with you for safekeeping. I think, even those you think you hate – or especially the ones you hate.”

It is parts of the book like this that make you smile in understanding. You know exactly what the author is trying to say. And for me, those are points in the book when I realize that despite what I don’t like about it, I do like it after all. Unpredictable, just like the characters in the book!

Halfway through the second half of the book, I realized how the author has cleverly woven two different points of view and builds the suspense in the mind of the reader: Who is telling the truth? It was then that I slapped my head in slowly spreading understanding.

Nari reminds us that there can be multiple points of view towards anything in the world. It shows two testimonies, each most likely to happen in some context or the other in the world. But it touches on sensitive topics and the insensitive statements that so many so-called learned men have made about women being raped across the country and how it is woman’s tendency to dress provocatively invites men to commit such crimes.

The disturbing thing about the portrayal is that a mother-child relationship is abused by the people involved. How can rape follow a realization of someone being one’s mother, or someone being one’s son?

All in all, Nari is a thought-provoking story that has been molded into two different stories, each involving the same protagonists. It is a little too explicit in mentioning rape, for my liking. But in this age, like the author puts it, maybe it is for the good to be out in the open, because we need to understand the why and the how, rather than merely condemning it outright.

Picture Courtesy: Amazon.

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