The Ministry of Utmost Happiness which was published in the year 2017 is a fiction novel threading lives, dilemma, oppression, fight back and hope written by Arundhati Roy an Indian author, environmental, and human rights activities. This novel was published almost twenty years after her debut ‘Man Booker Prizer’ winner and celebrated novel ‘The God of Small Things’. This magnificent novel is a collage or hodgepodge of various narratives written in succulent style.
Weaving in the lives of a transwoman Anjum and that of an architect turned activist Tilottama Roy has knitted the best and the beast together.
The Novel The Ministry of Utmost Happiness encompasses unhurried detours, the gradual unfolding of the life, and vividly blurred perception of the world. It is a classic medley of fun, violence, sex, prejudice, pain, and a bundle of human emotions and feelings born out of unearthly situations. It binds together the recrudescing saga of sacrifice, tussle, self-denial and the constant toil to emphasize the self-assertion in the society.
It isn’t always binary, the world we live in. But most of it is gray and left for the astray interpretations and comprehension of the reader. It wouldn’t suffice to label this meandering and mesmerizing story as a novel. It’s a piece for eternity.
On one hand, Anjum strives and battles to make a life for herself, and other narrative paints the accustomed life of an activist transitioning and managing her life through the walks of three men who fall in love with her.
Roy’s characters voice out the deemed happenings simultaneously pushing a reader’s subconscious brain to question the legality of their sufferings and it’s ethical stand from a humane point of view. The stories promulgate heroes who lie in the subverted areas of our society and as fragile and brittle they may appear but they never back down, never lose hope.
Her characters entail upon themselves the likeability of general minds and allow for a cordial rapport between the reader and themselves.
Her characters don’t confer to the age-old practices and beliefs to evoke the dramatic effect of human consciousness. Instead, they are true synonyms of her political writings and her journey.
Taking one at a time, Anjum sets herself up in a Graveyard, where her residence is as befitting as a native as the tree on the corner of any road. Author pens it as a Mehfil, a gathering of all bereft of all. Tussling through the menace of prejudice and down-looking imposed by the chauvinistic society her graveyard turns out to be a secular sanctuary guarded against the chaotic and devilish notions of the outside world.
Ms. Roy after her first booker award-winning novel divulged to fight the vast imperfections and unjust practices of this world. Her voice echoed for the Kashmiris and her zest supported the tribals fighting for their homeland. During this journey as she adduces she witnessed the scary side of this world under the microscope.
Anjum is a Hijra, a transitive word to point out the genders besides males and females. The ‘khawabgah’ or the dream house is Anjum’s escape from the dangling threats of the nasty world. She later finds herself subject to the reprisals and retreats of the Hindu community.
The Second leap
The author then bewitches us to the exotics of Kashmir. A discord between India and Pakistan and one wouldn’t be surprised to read her anecdotes and experiences molded into the life of ‘Tilo’. Roy has dedicated her life and struggles for 20 years to the cause of downtrodden and subjects of indifference and inequality.
Kashmir, one of nature’s finest art pieces has been turned into an industry of Jihadis, martyrs, spies, and victims.
Overpopulated by the characters, the intertwining lives, and the conflicts Roy has garnished the book well.
Her denouncement from the fiction wasn’t accounted for and all these times the perplexities she came across was the welcome enhancement to her words.
Roy has rekindled the debate and questioned the beliefs of a country that has shouted secularism and yet could never express it. These two stories are an infused result of the literary influence and practicality of human life.
The world she mobilizes is heavy-handed and yet the twisted intricacies have been brought forward in the most comprehensible manners one could.
The protagonists’ surroundings, the setting even the cover picture instills the fact something interesting awaits on every page and para. The Book and her words woven along with the hysterical approach of characters and the concomitant approved by the society are as raw and true as they come. It’s worth noting that the book is far from being a novel it’s an offering.
Annotation for the Author
Arundhati Roy and her magic with words have left millions flabbergasted. She serves multifold and multilayered ideas judiciously placed and aided to induce the desired effect. Her return from self-imposed exile has surged her quest to pen down a systematic yet aloof set of words that would at once be the window to the aching love story, canvass the broken heart, the solitary desires, and switch to intolerant reality.
The book reinvents the potential of a Novel and its reverberations on the general minds. The rendition of yet another casual but intriguing wordplay from Roy has enthralled the readers.