“This may be the curse of human race. Not that we are different from one another, but we are so alike.” – Salman Rushdie
Author C. Radhakrishnan’s novel ‘Now For a Tearful Smile’ is an all revealing insight into the sub consciousness and conscience of a nation through the eyes of Arjun, a poet, a revolutionary and an ascetic. Set in the tumultuous post Emergency period in India, the novel chronicles the love story of two people, a man and a woman, a husband and wife both living under false identities. Reiterating how the individual is always bound by the collective; the social, cultural, political and economic milieu of the nation play an important part in shaping the lives of its lead protagonists, often charting the course of their destiny.
The author raises a great deal of philosophical debates and while he provides answers for some, for others he lets the reader be the judge. One of the key themes discussed is mankind’s everlasting search to find a lasting solution for human sorrow. In fact, tears and sadness form an integral part of the narrative as does the childlike innocence and joy even in its midst. Other key factors discussed include the effectiveness and eventual futility of an eye-for-eye justice system and man’s desire to live freely and openly without fearing anything.
The author takes characters that have a similar philosophy towards life and yet are from diverse backgrounds and meshes their lives to form a bond with you that will last a lifetime. Siddharth Thappa aka Arjun is a multilayered character and is the mainstay of the novel. Branded as a terrorist and a revolutionary by the state, he’s this sensitive, empathetic character with high philosophical ideals. His bravery and his steadfast belief in his principles even in times of dire straits and oppression make him a hero in every sense of the word. His love Ani is another resolutely strong character and her courage, tenaciousness and optimism towards life is like a breath of fresh air in the doom and gloom world they exist in. The novel also has an extensive array of characters, an unlikely group of people whose lives get entangled and become dependent on each other, borne out of necessity and fate.
It’s not a story that you can read and forget. It will encompass you with its straightforward & brutal honesty and haunt and torment you with the wide range of emotions portrayed. But at the end of it, you will revel and rejoice the artistic flair to capture and celebrate a slice of life seldom discussed or portrayed in fiction.
Kairali Narayanan deserves special mention for her wonderful use of the English language to introduce this special book to the world.
Paperback: 376 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (March 26, 2014)