A DECENT RETICENCE WOULD HAVE MADE THIS BOOK A GREAT NOVEL
When the book was withdrawn by Mumbai University, after Aditya Thakare’s protest despite all the blah-blah about Fundamental Rights and freedom of expression, I was driven by curiosity and Rohinton Mistry’s ‘Such a long journey’ raced to the top of my reading file. I reasoned that a book that was prescribed by an eminent panel of educators as a non-detail for undergraduates must be well worth a read. Read it through I did-but how? Riveted to my seat sometimes but some other time, flinging it off in disgust and later picking it up again in my resolve to read it fully before passing judgment.
The book describes the lives of middle class Parsees in great detail. The storyline is good and the descriptions are vivid in all its disgusting details. But as this goes on and on throughout the book, I could actually smell the dirt and the squalor by just reading the passages describing that and did it make me sick?
There are unmentionable swear words sprinkled throughout the book. The characters use filthy language. The way the lone female typist in the bank is treated by her colleagues and the lewd remarks and crude courtship by Dinshawji who is supposed to be a good witty soul is no example to be followed by our youngsters.
The character of young Tehmul evokes sympathy. But should the activities of the cage – a whorehouse be so explicitly narrated? Aren’t we forgetting that there is something called decorum?
Even for an adult, I think this sort of books are not very uplifting and good to read. We all know there is enough dirt and squalor all around. We can work to mitigate them not revel in them.
Should we prescribe such books as texts for young impressionable minds? What do we expect them to learn from them? Can all parts of this book be read out in an open class- explained by a lecturer? What sort of questions and answers would the students be expected to learn from this? These are some of the thoughts passing through my mind. Shiv Sena or not, the university has done well in pulling this book out and I congratulate Aditya Thakare for his protest (whatever his reasons may be) that led to the removal of this book from the BA syllabus.