Love, Loss And More
K R Meera’s The Unseeing Idol of Light is a pitch-perfect rendition of strong emotions.By Vivek Tejuja
I remember the first time I met K R Meera. It was in Goa at a Writers and Readers Festival of some sort. I had just finished reading Aarachar in English, translated as Hangwoman—a sweeping tale of generations of hangmen so to speak and then a woman going on and becoming one, her story through decades and more. I also remember that I had to interview her that week, and I was shaking. I was a nervous wreck, you might say. And that is when she eased me by just being herself. Her warm, tender and compassionate self. Having said this, I used to always wonder then why was there so much brutality in her books and it hit me after finishing her latest translated book, The Unseeing Idol of Light.
There is brutality because that’s how the world works. Because of that brutality, she manages to infuse some kind of hope and love to the plot, thereby redeeming her characters to some extent. The Unseeing Idol of Light is a book about disappearances, love, longing and sometimes, it helps just to make us see the nature of obsession. Deepti has vanished mysteriously. There is no trace of her anywhere at all. Consumed with grief, her husband, Prakash, loses his eyesight. Also, the pain is double-fold since Deepti was pregnant with their child. Amid all of this enters Rajani, a woman with a tormented and brutal past. We all have our own demons after all, don’t we? So Rajani is attracted to Prakash and though he is drawn to her as well, he is unable to love her the way he loves Deepti. This is where the story begins. Of the disappeared Deepti, the lovelorn Prakash and the hungry-for-love Rajani.
K R Meera’s characters lead complex lives. They know that perhaps they are not to be loved or equipped to give love in good measure. They are flawed and so are their stories. Meera’s writing is measured, exact and sometimes so lucid that it takes your breath away. I think to a very large extent I could also see myself or at least see some strains of myself in her characters, but because they are so broken, you or even I for that matter wouldn’t admit to that. Meera sees, observes, takes notes and then writes about people she meets or experiences. The Unseeing Idol of Light is the kind of book that needs deep thought and contemplation. Ministry Nair’s translation is pitch-perfect, even though I don’t know Malayalam, but the emotions in the writing came through. To me, that is a hallmark of a great translation. What we need in the country is to garner more regional writers, the ones that write in all languages but English and do a stupendous job of it. For that alone and more, I would highly recommend K R Meera’s short but sustaining work, The Unseeing Idol of Light.