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Gods and Ends

 

Book Review

Title: Gods and Ends

Author: Lindsay Pereira

Publisher: Penguin Vintage, 2021

Pages: 205

This is a book which presents characters taken from real life. You will think, as you read the novel, that you know this character and this and this too. Only the names sound different, even exotic: Vaz, D’Souza, Sequeira, and so on. All the characters are Goan Catholics living in Orlem, Mumbai. All the major characters are tenants of Obrigado Mansion, a rundown building belonging to aged Francisco Fernandez who lives with his daughter-in-law, occupying two of the rooms in the mansion. All other rooms are occupied by families that are grappling with quite a few problems.

There are five families plus one widow who lives alone in one of the rooms. Each one of these characters catches our attention with their unique earthiness. The Sequeira family in Room 108, for example, is headed by Jude Sequeira who is little more than an alcoholic. He has a job in a factory. But since his education hadn’t gone beyond school, he remains on the lower rungs in the factory’s hierarchy and it does add to his frustrations a lot. Once he got a kind of promotion by grabbing the supervisor by his balls and making an emphatic demand. Brigette, his wife, had lost interest in him soon after their marriage. Their first love-making was a brutal rape. Jude seeks to dump his lust on his pubescent daughter, Philomena, whose obesity makes her a butt of many a joke at school.

Peter Vaz lost his job in Kuwait following the Gulf War. He is back in Room 103 with his wife Gracie and son Gavin. Unlike Brigette and Philo, Gracie and Gavin refuse to accept Peter’s drunkenness and crudeness. They leave him for good. And thus save themselves. Peter stays on in Obrigado Mansion watching the people of Orlem go by while he is sipping London Pilsner beer. His favourite pastime is watching pornography.

Gilbert D’Souza and his wife Angelina of Room 104 charm us with their version of religion. Since they couldn’t beget children, they had nothing to do with their time and hence took to evangelism. They preached Bible to whoever cared to listen until Gilbert discovered another kind of paradise in the bed of widow Joeann. Unable to endure the insult of such blatant infidelity, Angelina returned to her mother who was living in a one-bedroom apartment with her son and his family. Angelina is an unwanted burden in the overpopulated house where she had been born and brought up. The Bible tells her: “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord” [St Paul’s letter to Ephesians, 5:22]. So, like a devout Christian, Angelina returns to her husband who continues to savour his paradise in Joeann’s bed.

Michelle D’Costa is a 23-year-old student who falls in love with a Hindu classmate. Her parents of Room 107 are extremely concerned about her soul which will be doomed if she marries a non-Catholic. What about her children? They too will be damned. Even Father Lawrence Gonsalves, parish priest, is concerned. In addition, the young priest implicitly offers to defrock himself if Michelle is willing to leave the Hindu boy and marry him instead. But the miscegenation is destined and Father Gonsalves’s vocation is saved.

All these and other characters of the novel are taken from the real life we all live whether in Mumbai or Kerala or anywhere in this fabulous country called India. The author has succeeded in presenting these characters in unforgettable ways. All of them remain in our minds for a long time after we put the book down. And the book is quite unputdownable. Not because of any suspense or mystery though a bit of that is there too especially with Room 106 which is supposedly haunted.

I enjoyed reading this book so much so I finished reading it in a single day. I was amused, amazed and moved. Hats off to the author whose debut work is indeed verry promising.

 

 

Comments

  1. I love books that I can't put down and finish in one day. That's a really thorough review. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sure you'll find reading this novel a different kind of experience.

      Delete
  2. Thanks for the review. Shall try to give it a read. As you pointed out all the characters and their stories seem oh so familiar!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sounds a very rich and full narrative of experiences. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  4. That's a great title. It's wonderful to enjoy a book so much you can't put it down.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nowadays writers tend to make the narrative very complex. This book is an eminent exception.

      Delete

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