03 December, 2020

Central Lighting

A lively flame of black humour reinvents the familiar Indian domestic farce, adding depth and pathos

Central Lighting
By comparison to Abha Dawesar’s first two novels, bristling with sexually explicit passages, the current book is practically bucolic. The story centres upon the fragile, precocious young son of a pair of doctors. From his perspective, trapped within a tiny home-cum-clinic, we watch the familiar Indian domestic farce, starring the dastardly cousin, malicious neighbour, overbearing patriarch and the anxious bride-to-be. But a lively flame of black humour reinvents the medium, adding depth and pathos to an otherwise commonplace tale.

The boy is realised with tremendous sympathy. We suffer with him through his humiliations at school, his bouts of malaria, the misery of his cramped horizons and his victimisation by older relatives. The fact that he prevails despite being small and weak is a key to the writer’s social concerns, as she weaves in some of Delhi’s most sensational crime stories as background detail. Neither the city nor its citizens are named: instead, all the characters have generic titles, based on their professions and...



To read this piece, and more such stories in India's most exciting and exacting magazine, plus get access to our 25-year archives goldmine, please subscribe.

In this article:

More from Manjula Padmanabhan

Latest Magazine

December 07, 2020

other articles from the issue

articles from the previous issue

Other magazine section