Raises several burning questions
True to life write portraying the resilience and pain of women in India, assuredly deserves a wide readership in India and beyond. By Pratiksha Kapoor
Long listed for the man booker prize 2015, Anuradha Roy has shelled a masterpiece by writing an unflinching novel catering to the delicate subject of sexual abuse with bravery and to everyone’s applauds. Proposed as heart wrenching, sleeping on Jupiter is yet a riveting and poignant read
Sleeping on Jupiter, “Anuradha Roy’s one of the most brilliant new novel is a beautiful poetic exhibition of resilience and feistiness of women in India. Woven with multicolor attitudes and varied emotions, the whole tapestry circumscribes lost innocence, displacement, violence, friendship, survival, unconventional love, rejection, and pain. The opening chapters are violent but penned and crafted in delicately detached prose
The book tells the story of Nomi and is set in Jarmuli – a city of temples and a centre of healing on the edge of the ocean has made it among the 13 books selected for the £50,000 literary prize.
The book follows the life of a girl named Nomi, who witnesses the murder of her father and brother by ‘masked men’, and is abandoned by her mother. Soon, she’s escorted to an orphanage which is run by an internationally renowned spiritual guru, and thus is promised a life that would free her of the nerve wrecking memories of her childhood. The dream of living in an orphanage and leading a life that only a small kid could imagine is shattered, when she felt the sadhu “could see into me, through my tunic and my skin and bones, right inside”. All the kids living in the orphanage are at the mercy of guruji, who provides them with all the amenities, but also robs them of their innocence. After getting adopted by a family in Norway , she returns as a 25 years old filmmaker’s assistant to her village of Jarmuli , only to free herself from her horrors of the past and to keep promises made long ago.
The narrative structure of the knitted voices, lives overlapping during the course of five days. Interwoven into this narrative are the story of three conventional old women Nomi encounters on a train, Gouri, Latika and Vidya; the forbidden, same-sex love of her whimsical tour guide Badal for a young man, Raghu; and the hidden demons that possess the photographer Suraj who assists her research for the film.
Roy’s chiseled prose allows her to expose the endless, treacherous hypocrisies of Indian society: barebodied priests who make a fuss about women’s clothing; tourism that celebrates erotic carvings on temple walls while remaining in denial about the sexual abuse of children; holidaying old women tired of domestic drudgery who jump at the first opportunity to pass harsh judgment on each other and everyone else; the “progressive” man who can share a cigarette and whisky with a woman but is still ready to hit her when an argument gets out of hand. Violence and misogyny, as Roy drives home, is the norm here.
In the form of the novel she has boldly unmasked the hidden face of Indian spirituality and the rampant sexual abuse in its unholy confines, raising the question of when the time will come when such atrocities might end. Leaving us to think about issues that stark us naked as a society , making us see the loopholes of our well celebrated and glorious culture , and maybe for some readers , giving them the strength to fight their demons as well as help others .While Sleeping On Jupiter is assuredly a novel portraying the resilience and pain of women in India, with Roy’s poetic, vivid and true to life write, its implications reach far wider.