Book Title: Two Leaves and A Bud
Author: Mulk Raj Anand
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
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A Bird’s Eye View
About the Storyteller:
Mulk Raj Anand’s style of writing sets the reader to think deeply and it also evokes a reaction from the reader. I read this book as part of my Indian Writing in English course, in the second year of my BA (English Literature). It is a fact that English Writers of Indian origin spoke of highly serious topics such as caste and social discrimination. Or it could be that the choice of Writers were the ardent freedom struggle activists. Some Writers used humour while some believed in holding the note of deep contemplation in place during the course of their narratives about the British rule in India.
It was almost like Gangu’s the protagonist and his family’s troubles were never ending and the way out of the situation does not seem available anywhere. In that way, the plot’s moment of happiness was also colored by the protagonist’s non-achievable delusion of future happiness. While reading Anand’s work, I felt it, that it was a rather overload of sadness which kept lining the story from start to finish. It was never dropped even during those small happy moments in the life of the major characters. In this Anand reminded me of Charles Dicken’s writing keeps making things harder, especially to find even a moment of joy in any described situations in story.
The Story in a Nutshell
A Farmer of Amritsar who has lost his land to the moneylenders is forced to move out of his familiar hometown to an unfamiliar state in Assam where he struggles in the pathetic condition to just live one day after another with his family being safe. What happens to his family and to him in the new place and how the contractor just painted a life of prosperity which turned to nothing but a mirage of horror.
My Likes and Dislikes
I liked the intensity with which Anand wrote this story. There is no rest from the constant feeling of desperation and desire that something good would happen makes a refrain in the mind’s of the reader; but then, there were no breaks. The strength of a human’s mindset of hope that keeps ebbing and flowing through our being is reflected in Gangu and his family too. But eventually, reality strikes and everything is just darkness. I also liked the flow of words when I read it and it felt like I was living in the British rule era.
What I disliked was the few characters major evil ones, but they were the plot progressing villains who were the catalyst to moving ahead of the story. But I think if you can make some character to be hated by the reader, then the readers are invested in your story and the protagonist.
That way, this book had a lot of interesting paragraphs where the author’s ability to describe the scene and emotions of the characters comes out very well. This novel was very sad and at the end of it, you are happy because it was a definite tragedy and it is a little over the top with injustice hanging on the hinges. But then, it kind of opens up the mind’s eye towards what could possibly be the reason for the existence of such discrimination and why is that the fellow human beings do not have the basic rights in their life and working condition.
The human’s rights are violated in the working condition of the plantation at every given point. This leaves a sense of constant injustice which becomes a given fact of the contracted workers’ life. That sense of injustice and inequality really gets to you when you read this novel.
The fact that I had to read this novel as a compulsory novel of the Indian Writing in English paper, I felt a sense of dark brooding when I read it. I don’t pick books which are unhappy, but then being socially aware is also part of the deal to read up books that are written with sadness in it.
I do want to read up literary works of Indian Writers, but their grammar is so hard and that of the Wren and Martin variety. But then you have rare thoughts of progress and advancement from these Writers which moves one’s sense of right. But I was someone who enjoyed styles of varied kind. If I read for a specific time a specific style, then, I tend to be able to pick it up.
Like for instance, there was a time, when I kept reading Shakespeare’s plays and landed up being able to read like natural English. I side poetry more than prose. Anand’s prose was one such pleasure to read, but the subject left me depressed and a little disappointed about the inequalities in a society of that time.
The people who live in the delusion that all is well and continue life in stupor, sometimes need to get their jolt in novels such as these. The novel brings out the oppression in plain statements and in turn showing this mirror of society the reader is not given any space to escape. I believe if the book does that to you, then you are reading an exceptional writer’s work.
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