Saturday, 6 March 2010
Such a Long Journey by Rohinton Mistry
DATE READ: February 2010
NOTES: Gustad Noble lives a frugal life as a bank worker in Bombay. It is the 1970s and India is ruled by Indira Ghandi and the Congress Party. He has a wife Dilnavaz, sons Sohrab and Darius and daughter Roshan. They are a loving Parsee family but from the outset his precarious life seems to be on the verge of collapse. His young daughter is ill and his son Sohrab is refusing to go to college. They live in a crowded apartment block with fractious neighbours and every day they face powers cuts, food rationing, a shortage of medicines and low level corruption.
Then an old friend begs a favour from him. He claims to be involved in secret government work and claims to want to help the oppressed Bengalis. Gustad (who is naïve and trusting) picks up a parcel with a large amount of money to be deposited in a bank account. This is an illegal act but once Gustad is involved he sees no way out.
The bitter-sweet struggle of life in Bombay is well portrayed and despite all the setbacks and disappointments it is ultimately an uplifting story of good people in a harsh world. Such a Long Journey does not have the great sweep of time and place of A Fine Balance but in its own way is just as good.
A great read from a great writer.