Estuary by Perumal Murugan
Book – Estuary
Author – Perumal Murugan
Translator – Nandini Krishnan
Publisher – Eka (20 July 2020)
Pages – 256 pages, Hardcover
About the Book:
Late at night, Kumarasurar’sphone rings shrilly. His teenage son is calling. What could he want?
A seemingly simple demand torments Kumarasurar, who fears it might put his finances—and perhaps his son’s life—in jeopardy. As a father’s anxieties unravel, his memories undermine his self-worth and imaginary scenes of damnation taunt him.
Perumal Murugan’s latest novel, his first in an urban setting, is also a razor-sharp parody of everything from e-commerce to the fitness industry, art appreciation to political manipulation, cram schools to social networks. Through a meditative exploration of a father’s emotional landscape, Murugan tells of a world wrecked by unchecked consumerism and an obsession with growth, where technology overrides common sense and degrees don’t guarantee education. And, with characteristic tenderness, he also weaves in a way to redemption.
Estuary means the mouth of a large water-body where the tide meets the stream. In this book, ‘Estuary’ means the place where fiction full of anxieties and reality full of middle-class worries meet.
One of the main reasons why I wanted to read this book is because Perumal’s Poonachi is one of my favorite reads of all time. I can’t tell you enough on how much I loved and cried while reading Poonachi or The Story of a Black Goat. As one can tell, I started this book with really high expectations. I did not enjoy the first half as much as I thought I would. I was struggling at a point to keep reading. But I kept reading because someone who wrote a book like Poonachi would definitely have something different in this book as well.
This book, Estuary by Perumal Murugan, is a story of Kumarasura, his wife and his son. Kumarasura is not at all tech-savvy but infact is terrorized when he learns about the tech scams, deaths caused because of a bunch of teenagers trying to click a selfie, game-addiction and lust. He starts getting nightmares which doesn’t let him sleep peacefully. Infact, doesn’t let him sleep at all. He thinks and over analyzes every situation, every minute, with what if scenarios.
What if my son is in a bad company.
What if he is addicted to drugs.
What if something happens to him while he is clicking a selfie.
What if his marks are less and he isn’t awarded any seat on his merit.
What if what if what ifs.
The story is stretched. Atleast the first half is. But Murugan does not fail to highlight the dread of Kumarasura over technologies, especially once he learns about the bad side of the same. Kumarasura’s wife is hence robbed of normal and peaceful days when her husband starts acting abnormally while their son is away studying in a hostel.
I felt very deely for Kumarasura and his struggles to catch up with the tech-developments. He suffered, mostly in silence, thinking about the worst possible outcomes. A simple demand from his son brought along days of anxieties and sleepless nights.
As I kept reading and progressing with the read, I found myself so engrossed into the story that it was unputdownable. The title and the cover is indeed so perfect and one learns about the same in the last 50 pages of this book. As you learn about the meaning behind the title, a wave of calmness is felt over you (atleast I did). Within pages, anxiety was gone surrendering to whatever present holds.
Lastly, I do recommend reading this book. It some-how is a wholesome story translated very beautifully from its original text by Nandini Krishnan. If you haven’t yet read Poonachi by Perumal Murugan, then I would rather ask or suggest you to read Poonachi before anything else.