The Better Man
by Anita Nair
Mukundan, retired from government service, returns to the village of Kaikurussi where he was born. He comes with the intention of erasing the memories of his past. He is upset, viewing his life as a failure. He meets “One-screw-loose-Bhasi”, a local eccentric, a housepainter and an inverter of an odd system of alternative medicine.
He helps in healing Mukundan and transforming himself. Then Power House Ramakrishnan, a locally important man, decides to build a Community hall, and selects Bhasi’s land. He threatens to destroy Bhasi’s business if he refuses to sell the land. Mukundan intends to save Bhasi’s land but is flattered into accepting membership on the project committee. Then Mukundan’s father (one of the strongest characters of the book) dies. Mukundan undergoes a deeper transformation and finds redemption.
You might find the story predictable and about average, but the narrative is fresh.
It is a bit sow in the beginning but it gathers pace and evokes a lot of emotions.
The author catches finer points of village life with much grace and ease, reflecting “real life” in the interior of the country. The power cuts, the post office and the people working in it, the tea stall etc. The tone of the narrative is heart-felt and warm. The incidents and the characters are bound to touch your heart. The only problem is that the tempo of the novel drops a lot. At a point when you think the story is picking up pace and indulging, it somehow drops the plot and fades out.
Overall a nice one time read.
(Review by Sanjana Kapoor)