The novel “A fine Balance” is a second book of famous Indian born Canadian author Rohinton Mistry and it was originally published in 1995. The novel story has flawlessly captured all the inhumanity, bribery & nobility and bravery of India.
A FINE BALANCE BY ROHINTON MISTRY
A Fine Balance By Rohinton Mistry Summary
The story of novel revolves around four major characters named Dina Dalal, a strong widow, Maneck Kohlah, a young student uprooted from his idyllic hill station, and two tailor named Ishvar and Om Prakash who have fled the caste violence of their native village.
The story starts with a past life of Dina Dalal, whose father was doctor and had a dream to make Dina a best doctor in town but unfortunately he died in an accident due to which Dina become dependent on his big brother named Nusswan for education. Instead of helping Dina in further education, his brother Nusswan abused her, make her quit college and married her to a man who died in car accident just after 3 years of marriage. Dina had two choice after his husband death, either to go back at his brother’s home or to start new life and become Independent woman.
Dina Dalal was a strong woman and choose to become independent, she purchase an apartment to start her new tailor shop. She did tailoring for 20 years but now in middle age, her eyes are getting weak because of aging and now she is looking for someone who can take care of her tailoring shop.
The story now shift focus to a past life of Om Prakash and Ishwar, who are from lower caste family like Dalit whose family used to do cobbler work. Ishvar’s father named Dukhi did cobbler work in his whole life and had a dream to teach his two sons named Ishvar and Narayan better work like tailoring and farming etc. Dukhi taught his both sons tailoring work so they don’t need to work as cobbler, but Thakur from upper caste didn’t like Dukhi teaching his sons tailoring work so he burned all the family members of Dukhi to the ashes excluding Om Prakash and Ishvar. At that time people from lower caste family were not allowed to choose their work they had no choice except to work as cobbler or sweeper.
The story now jumps to present where Ishvar and Om Prakash have come Bombay and gets hired by Dina to work in her tailoring shop and they are living in a rented apartment given by Dina. The story now features Maneck kohlah, an intelligent Kashmiri boy whose father was a good friend of Dina’s husband and he used to work in coal mine but due to industrialization he became unemployed but he still has a dream to give is son best education.
State Emergency of India 1975 – 1977
The time is 1975. The place is an unnamed city by the sea. The government of Indira Gandhi has just declared a State of Emergency, in whose upheavals four people — Dina Dalal, a spirited widow, Maneck, a young student from Kashmir who is currently living in Dina’s apartment to complete his graduation and two tailors named Om Prakahs and Ishvar who have fled the caste violence of their native village — will be thrust together, forced to share one cramped apartment and an uncertain future.
As the story moves forward we learn that Om Prakash and Ishvar goes in their village and problems occurs when both of them were capture by state police of their village and they were forced to work as labor for the construction of roads. Somehow, Om Prakash and Ishvar managed to escape from state police and finally they goes in their village.
The story now features new character named Ashraf, a tailor and Guru of Om Prakash and Ishwar who taught them tailoring. Ishvar and Om Prakash goes in Ashraf’s home to spend few days as their own home was destroyed by goverment of Indira Gandhi. The story of novel jumps to a life of Dina Dalal whose apartment is destroyed by goverment and now again she become dependent on his brother. The story now jumps to a life of Om Prakash and Ishvar who had an encounter with Thakur and he get offended when he saw Ishvar spitting on his direction. Thakur sterilize both of them with the help of police officers. They did their sterilization carelessly due to which one leg of Ishvar get infected and he had to loose his right leg in order to survive and live.
The story of book ends with Maneck, who finds no hope in life after state emergency, when he learns that all his friends are dead, he throw himself in front of train and commits suicide.