Bombay Tiger, published posthumously, is the effervescent and mysterious Kamala Markandaya’s eleventh and last novel. Markandaya’s life was something that you would come across in fable books. An unassuming Brahmin lady from a small town like
To put it briefly, after her small stints in
Now, coming to the present volume, had Bombay Tiger been published during the author’s lifetime, it might have read differently, and been considerably shorter. Set in the l980s, the novel is about the rise, fall and the ultimate redemption of Ganguli, the protagonist.
Having lost his inheritance at an earlier age, Ganguli leaves his village for
In certain ways, he is no different than his classmate Rao, who too migrated to
Rao is leaner, softer in several ways; he spends lots of time and effort plotting ruin of the business magnet, rather than making even a miniscule attempt to understanding his only offspring.
As life may have, when the business giant falls, others follow suit. Storm-ripples are felt by Rao and his family. They, too, cannot escape their harsh destiny. It is the dramatic loss of their children that shakes them to the core of their beings. This abruptly pulls the rug from under Ganguli’s feet and brings him, bang, crashing down. Rao does mourn his son’s death, though he was never emotionally nearer to him. Yet, the tragic event alters his veritable existence. He can now let go of his all-consuming hatred for Ganguli.
Some characters, important nevertheless, show up towards the end, which is a back draw. Markandaya should have introduced more of Ganguli’s private love life earlier in the story, to give the readers more of a picture of his sexual sexapades — Ganguli, the man, rather than a mere businessman.
This literary pursuit portrays Indian life quite accurately, especially where issues like abortion are concerned, though the author migrated to
Bombay Tiger would have grabbed my attention had it been tighter and shorter; it tends to wander off the main character in many places. The pace of the novel slows down towards the middle, and, ahem, suddenly picks up in the last 20-to-30 pages. So, folks, Bombay Tiger does not have anything novel to offer. Buy it if you can afford it. Amen.-- Deccan Herald / 31 August 2008