All great fiction transform our understanding of life, our perception of the universe, of the incomprehensible patterns that our lives makes and those that we regard as meaningless. As Wendy Wasserstein puts it, “The trick. . .is to find the balance between the bright colors of humor and the serious issues of identity, self-loathing, and the possibility for intimacy and love when it seems no longer possible or, sadder yet, no longer necessary.” In A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry attempts to portray life that slips off between the cup and lip, leaving vague patterns behind, very often bringing down every attempt at maintaining that balance in life where the worthy struggles and wages a worm’s battle with the merciless bird of fate for survival while the unworthy flourishes. As one go through the work, which is a real blend of history, imagination, reality and a multitude of human emotions and conditions, we desperately hope for a poetic justice as the characters sink from what seemed to be a fine balance to a struggle for survival. A Fine Balance is the story of four different people, Dina Dalal, a Parsi widow; Maneck Kohlah- a student from the hillside, Ishwar – a tailor turned chamar and Omprakash, his nephew. The foursome comes together at the doorstep of a tiny flat in Bombay. While Ishwar and Omprakash come to the city to escape the cruelty of the caste system in their village and earn a living since what they had had been destroyed by industrialization, Maneck’s intention is to increase his career prospects by earning a degree in Air Conditioning. Dina lives a secluded life ,which is hard enough for a lively, vibrant and beautiful lady like herself, but is essential to preserve her independence. However, the lives of the uncle and the nephew are most pitiable of the foursome bound by their economic conditions, social standards and the worst of all, their caste.
In a fine balance, Mistry steps out of the Parsi life into the larger social reality. Caste...
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