The book–THE Cripple and his Talismans is a book worth reading, at least by poets and cripples. No, it doesn’t have a poetic language but it is a study in metaphors, similies and symbolism. That’s why I enjoyed it immensely.
Its characters are dripping with the sweat of sarcasm, their humour dry as hay in summer,and basically reflecting the grime of finding oneself in situations that were created out of a city’s rise and fall from grace in the race towards development. Left, right, center, all is symbolically explored as an issue in the book like we ambidextrously explore our own inner talents, always confused whether to go left, right or stay where we are; looking for a guide, anyone, even one as abhorrent a character as the one that the cripple in the book finds . By losing a limb, do we get denigrated to a section of society that looks at handicap as an excuse for begging? Why do we lose a limb? Do we misuse it, disuse it? How can we grow in strength after such a mishap? What are our options? Is the limb a metaphor for something else? If it is, what is your interpretation? Would you equate your limb to your talents–writing talent, labour capacity, what? Losing it creates a world of frightening and terrible phantoms who live in fringes of society and are only welcome into your society because you lost a very important part of functioning through your life–these much ignored, helplessly disfigured creatures but ones who are hell bent upon restoring their self dignity through one man’s search that we witness in this book.
This book is a cripple’s bible. It recreates everything he cannot put in mere words, it creates a symbolic world that says that there is a world beyond our normal two-legged, two-handed and normal-headed world of people that exists in those who have lost any one of those and are marginalised for that.We are compelled to think beyond our normalcy in order to grasp that world as part of our very own and I did it one night when the air was warm and humid, my head was liquid and turgid, my senses wandering in some narrow gully of darkness when I met these characters who lived away from light and reason as understood by us.
Sometimes you are not able to move forward to somewhere from where you are but you have to to avoid getting into an accidental loss of something that is normal–when I was reading the book I felt stuck somehwere from where I wanted to move and see some light, so I had to rush to the end to see what happens next and how it ends finally.I must have lost something in the process. It is about Bombay, it said in the end.
THE CRIPPLE AND HIS TALISMANS by ANOSH IRANI