This book is a light account of the life of a middle class Indian man, set in pre-independence and later post-independence India.
Summary Of The Book
Asa Mi Asami follows a first person narrative. It is told from the viewpoint of Dhondo Bhikaji Joshi, a clerk who is working for a British firm. The book begins in the pre-independence period and continues till the post-independence era. This novel is not about politics or the freedom struggle, rather, it is about the everyday life of a middle class man.
Dhondo’s life revolves around his family and his job. He is so removed from what is happening around him in the society that he is not even very aware of the freedom movement and the upheavals around him. In fact he first learns of India’s independence when his company is taken over by an Indian businessman. He gets a promotion, but that involves a change in his place of residence, which he finds challenging.
For a man who is used to living in a chawl, one bedroom dwellings in a multi-storied building with several tenements, seems awkward. He finds life in the new system difficult to get used to.
He also finds the rapid changes in society hard to deal with. He goes to see a modern play written by a friend, but spends most of his time outside, taking care of his children. His wife gets her photo published in a paper in association with a function at a Ladies Council. This is a strange concept to him, but he likes the way his wife looks in the photograph, wearing makeup and dressed fashionably.
He is disappointed when his kids perform poorly at school, but then, when he goes through their books, he finds out that he cannot understand the topics covered in the new syllabus.
The religion that he has practiced, which was known for its restraint, is now played out in an extravagant stage, as he finds out when he is taken to visit a baba, who is surrounded by the rich and famous.
In this vein, the author highlights the fast changes taking place in post-independence Mumbai, and the struggles of a simple man to keep pace with it. Through all this runs a rich vein of humor, as the protagonist sees the irony and humor in each situation.
About Purushottam Laxman Deshpande
Purushottam Laxman Deshpande was a Marathi novelist and playwright. He was also a stage and film actor, music composer, and singer.
He has written many novels and plays in Marathi. Some of his other books are Tee Phulrani, Bhagawan, Kay Wattel Te Hoeel, and Gandhiji.
Born in 1919, he belonged to the Saraswat Brahmin community. He completed his graduation studies at Pune’s Fergusson College and Willingdon College, Sangli. He was married to Sunita Thakur, who was herself a famous writer.
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