“Mad is an everyday, ordinary word…But it is different when you have a mad mother.” – Jerry Pinto, Em and the Big Hoom
Each of us romanticizes sadness, pain. Whether we whine about it or are frightened by it, we cannot deny that we have a soft corner for sorrow. But few are those who wear it with dignity. The dignity that adds beauty to it, the dignity that pulls the “self-pity” out of it, and the dignity that transforms it from plain, commonplace grief to magnetic poignancy. Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto is one such story that tells the poignant journey of a family in Mumbai.
A seemingly normal family of four dwells in a tiny flat in the heart of Mumbai: a father with his two kids and a manic-depressive wife; the father and the mother are the eponymous Big Hoom and Em to their children. The story is about the son who struggles to sketch the full portrait of his mother by painfully collecting one jigsaw puzzle at a time.
The son knows his mother as “mad” from his childhood – what starts as a nervous breakdown, escalates unpredictably into schizophrenia and manic depression. But to a child, these are just terms. The mother he knows cannot be described by any of these words. In fact, he isn’t even sure what he knows is all there is to her. This feeling urges him to find all he can about Em, especially how she came to be the woman she is now. And the source? Em herself.
Storyteller at Heart
Eccentric, funny, capricious, caring and quirky, Imelda Mendes (Em) is a storyteller at heart. The book is filled with delightful conversations, as she vividly, and at times, unreservedly recounts life stories. It is through these anecdotes that the son discovers the touching and not-so-touching sides of his mother. In the end, he realizes that…well, we will let you discover what he realizes for yourself.
Funny and Poignant
If you think then that the book is a mopey and snivelling account of the mother’s suffering, you couldn’t be more wrong. Em and the Big Hoom is brilliantly funny and poignantly moving, without a trace of self-pity. The author doesn’t even seek attention, but he gets it in full measure, all right, with a boldly frank narration, which is as real as reality can be.
As a parting note or a friendly warning, this is a book to make you snigger uncontrollably, cry without any bitterness and to keep you going in your tough times. In all, it is one of the best novels of all recent times.
Purchase the book – Amazon
About the author
K. Shilpiya is an avid reader and ardent admirer of all things science with a penchant for writing stories. She is constantly on the lookout for excuses to learn new stuff and explain it in simple terms to anyone who would listen.