Life and times of a goat- the new indian express fluid in ear symptoms in adults

HYDERABAD:Poonachi is a political fable. And though the narrative has layers of both human woes and voices, it isn’t Animal Farm though it has the similar elements of government surveillance, bigotry, poverty-stricken masses the obvious bars of stark class division. But why has he chosen goats and not sheep or any other animal. Well, in 2015 he was severely criticised and threatened for his novel ‘Madhorubhagan’, which brutally exposed the cruelty of caste system.

The same forced him into self exile. Perumal Murugan broke his silence with this book which is more a sneer on the current socio-political situation in the country as the writer himself famously says in the preface, “I am fearful of writing about humans; even more fearful of writing about gods… It is forbidden to write about cows or pigs.

That leaves only goats and sheep. Goats are problem-free, harmless and, above all, energetic. A story needs narrative pace. Therefore, I’ve chosen to write about goats.” He uses the tool of anthropomorphism in the protagonist: the little black goat ‘Poonachi’ who emotes what humans go through. This transmogrification to human and an animal back and forth is so subtle that you forget the difference and immerse in the the story of the goat. This is the strength of the writer as he portrays the situation in the country.

The acquiesced subjugation of the subaltern, the poor class grasping onto the lower rung of democracy, is juxtaposed vividly with the herd of goats reared in the rugged-arid topography of fictitious place the Odakkan Hill. The inkling of what’s to come in the following pages becomes evident in the opening lines: “The birth of an ordinary life never leaves a trace, does it?” The disregard of the origin of a life points to the indifference the giant machinery of government has to offer to the people it governs or rather rules to be more precise. The writer mocks at it through the long queue for the piercing of the baby goats; the villagers brave sultry heat and long on-foot journey to reach to the government offices where unnecessary questioning combined with rigorous questioning confirms the ‘supremacy’ of the regime as the villagers on a hot afternoon converse while waiting for their turn: “There is an old saying that the regime is deaf,” says a villager. “It’s deaf only when we speak about our problems. When we talk about the regime, its ears are quite sharp,” answers another.

The parallels between the ordeal of people during demonetisation and otherwise is easily reckoned. What makes this narrative more interesting is its simplicity devoid of any embellishment. The arid earth and few tufts of grass are enough to sketch the narratorial landscape which offers different layers of voices in a nation where they are mutilated with the proliferation of radicalism, authoritarianism and more: the several diseases of democracy. This shift of voice is from the goat, Poonachi to the poor couple who adopt and bring her up with oil-cake water, starch and leaves. The goat survives all this to produce a litter of seven kids twice. But her ordeal is like those of humans: she’s is impregnated by an old billy goat after she’s separated from the other goat she falls in love with.

What’s Perumal trying to convey here? The helplessness of being a poor hapless person born without luxuries as part of the gargantuan motion of the democratic machinery that never stops but demands the life-blood from every one who’s part of it irrespective of what they get or not get in return. It’s a tale of our times, us. The tale of carrying back-breaking burden — the stimuli thus generated to ownership and state governance envelopes the plot. The, burden, thus, doesn’t lessen; on the contrary comes in conflict with life itself. Poonachi represents not just a tired female of our times but the entire populace that grinds itself in the gigantic move(s) of a nation without any reward only to end up like a dead stone, the way Poonachi ends up in the final page. This is a must-read to analyse and evaluate our times, burdens and selves; more so as the world celebrates Karl Marx’s 200th birth anniversary.