|The Magen David sketched by Jael|
The main character (arguably) of Morris Selman, the man with the many hats, embodies a strange dichotomy - of being larger than life while managing to come across as a troubled mortal being of flesh, blood and sinew. He is as generous as is miserly, as keen to please as to dismiss, as much a besotted selfless lover as a boorish, violent husband. Amidst all these contradictions, that he manages to straddle a space of his own is the success of the novel. Even as a mature Rachel takes over a great part of the mindspace of the author, leaving Morris alone to battle his old age and demons, the departure in the narrative in itself is symbolic - of the passing of his prime years, of him no longer holding the centre space in the lives and minds of his community, of a neglect that seeps in with time and accumulated misdemeanour.
However, in this saga of relationships across a lifetime, there are few images that linger on long after the book is over. Most daughters have experienced the innate need a girl feels to compare every man yo her father -measure him against the yardstick set for manhood early in life. I feel the fathers often win this bout, for there is a certain selfless love there that is tough to replicate. Through the book, I felt this conjecture of mine would be proven wrong, however the wisdom Rachel finds in hindsight felt like vindication to me. Rachel's band of friends, who stick by her through thick and thin are reasons why despite little family left in Kolkata, the city remains home even after years of making a home in other cities of another country.
|All illustrations are done by Jael herself|
(Jael Silliman opted to self-publish her first work of fiction. You can find this book on: Doorstep Books, Amazon India, or Flipkart)