A Christmas Carol

I believe that the books that we have read as a child do have much to offer if looked at again with adult eyes. There are things, for example, friendship, brotherhood, love, treachery, heartbreak, misery, war, and most of all death, that a child has yet to encounter. As far as adults go, we have had a fair share of these either it being a personal experience or from other people’s lives.


A Christmas Carol was first published in the year 1843 and today we are in 2017. This very fact, that two people, the writer and the reader, can come in contact, have a conversation, and momentarily, share a period of time long gone, is a testament to the power that books hold.

In the first chapter, we are introduced to Ebenezer “Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner!” on whom “External heat and cold had little influence on Scrooge. No warmth could warm, no wintry weather chill him. No wind that blew was bitterer than he, no falling snow was more intent upon its purpose, no pelting rain less open to entreaty. Foul weather didn’t know where to have him. The heaviest rain, and snow, and hail, and sleet, could boast of the advantage over him in only one respect. They often “came down” handsomely, and Scrooge never did.”, and on top of all that, he hates Christmas.

This is the first time I am reading Charles Dickens as far as I recall (I may have read his work as I child), and his writing style took me by a pleasant surprise.
When he mentions the death of Scrooge’s partner and friend, Jacob Marley, this is how he describes his condition.

Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.

Mind! I don’t mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country’s done for. You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a door-nail.

The flow, the usage of words, the craft, I loved every bit of them and I am sharing direct quotes from early on in the book so that you may get a taste of it.
Your mileage may vary.

Scrooge’s nephew comes to his house to invite him to Christmas dinner which you may have understood by now he refused.
He the turns away two men who came seeking donation for the poor, and gives his clerk, Bob, a hard time when he asks for a day’s leave on Christmas.  Later that night, Marley’s ghost pays him a visit and when he comes to terms that something haunted is coming his way, he says, “It’s humbug still!” said Scrooge. “I won’t believe it.”.


I will not say more as it will be a major disservice to you, the reader.
Though I will add that Marley’s ghost isn’t the only ghost who pays him a visit.

This is a story of great inspiration and heart about how we as person change over the course of our lives, be it for the good or the bad, and how life gives us a chance to reflect on our life and mend it before it gets too late.
I highly recommend this book to any lover of Classics.

Also, I take great pleasure in informing you that this novella is the first book that I have started (7/2) and finished (15/2) in 2017. As I have stated in my article, The Stranger, 2016 was not a productive year for me when it came to both reading and writing.
I am currently reading two non-fiction books, The Prince and Meditations.
Both of them require a good amount of brain juice and are not suited for just picking up and reading. For this reason, I started A Christmas Carol. I read it on my tablet through Google Play for free. This is a public domain book and you can easily find it for free, like on Gutenberg.

“They are Man’s,” said the Spirit, looking down upon them. “And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware of them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it!” cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand toward the City. “Slander those who tell it ye! Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse! And bide the end!”


A House for Mr Biswas

If you ever come across a scene, where the members of a family are falling head over heels for someone, running around that person, trying to please and appease him. Know that the creature in front of you is the Son-In-Law of that family. This is an Indian cultural thing that is quite common here in India, though this status and prestige of the Son-In-Law depreciates over the years, the rate of depreciation depends on how he treats his wife and her family members.
The sad part is that Mr Biswas didn’t even receive the above mentioned honour when he married into the Tulsi Family.

Having purchased the paperback in August’2013, I picked it up last week. I don’t remember from where did I came to know about this book, but I am thankful that I did, for it is an excellent read, beautifully written by  V. S. Naipaul.

‘A work of great comic power qualified with firm and unsentimental compassion’                                                                                                                                 -Anthony Burgess

I couldn’t agree more.

The book is about the life of Mohun Biswas and his yearning to own a house.

How terrible it would have been. . . to have lived without even attempting to lay claim to one’s portion of the earth; to have lived and died as one has been born, unnecessary and unaccommodated.

The story is setup in Trinidad and major characters are Indo-Trinidadians. It begins with telling you that Mr Biswas is living in his own house, he is forty six years old, and he is to die soon. What follow is a journey that takes you back in time, to his birth, in the ‘wrong way’, in a village that is uniquely Indian. Most of the Indians living in urban India do have some connection with the villages and small districts because of family and friends though that connection is getting weaker by the day, and if not, most Indians have watched enough Bollywood to feel as if the the opening chapter is going on in some village in India itself.

While reading most books there are moment you pass a smile or have a chuckle, this one is different. I couldn’t help myself laughing out loud through out the book and the last time that I remember having such an experience was when I read Catch- 22.

As the story develops, you start feeling for Mr Biswas, his struggles, his troubles, his fears, his triumphs, all feel real, and you connect with him and other characters in the book. It all feels real.

‘When you sick you forget what it is to be well. And when you well you don’t really know what it is to be sick. Is the same with not having place to go back to every afternoon.’

Roti Kapda aur Makaan (Food, Clothing, and Shelter). These are the key struggles of many Indian and for the fact, Humans around the world. People who have the above should be grateful to God, be more humble and charitable.

Above I mentioned the Tulsi Family. Mr Biswas marries one of the daughters of this family, though the circumstances in which the marriage takes place, are quite hilarious for the reader, but surreal for Mr Biswas.

Mr. Biswas has no money or position. He was expected to become a Tulsi.

 From the ultimate low, Mr Biswas pulls himself up, and makes something out of his life.

He was going out into the world, to test it for his power to frighten. The past was counterfeit, a series of cheating accidents. Real life, and its especial sweetness, awaited; he was still beginning.

I wouldn’t divulge anything more from the story because I want to you read it for yourself. I had a great time reading this book, laughed a great deal, grew solemn in certain sections of the book, especially when the book was near its end.

Some of the quotes from the book:

He has begun to wait, not only for love, but for the world to yield its sweetness and romance. He deferred all his pleasure in life until that day.

There is, in some weak people who feel their own weakness and resent it, a certain mechanism which, operating suddenly and without conscious direction, releases them from final humiliation.

For Shama and her sisters and women like them, ambition, if the word could be used, was a series of negatives: not to be unmarried, not to be childless, not to be an undutiful daughter, sister, wife, mother, widow.

Father and son, each saw the other as weak and vulnerable, and each felt a responsibility for the other, a responsibility which, in times of particular pain, was disguised by exaggerated authority on the one side, exaggerated respect on the other.

PS: I did find out from where I learned about this book, TIME’S ALL-TIME 100 Novels.