Book Review of The Blind Matriarch by Namita Gokhale

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Neelam Sharma,

Writing Style


The blind matriarch, Matangi-Ma, lives on the topmost floor of an old house with many stories. From her eyrie, she hovers unseeingly over the lives of her family. Her long-time companion Lali is her emissary to the world. Her three children are by turn overprotective and dismissive of her. Her grandchildren are coming to terms with old secrets and growing pains. Life goes on this way until one day the world comes to a standstill-and they all begin to look inward.

This assured novel records the different registers in the complex inner life of an extended family. Like
the nation itself, the strict hierarchy of the joint-family home can be dysfunctional, and yet it is this home that often provides unexpected relief and succour to the vulnerable within its walls.

As certainties dissolve, endings lead to new beginnings. Structured with the warp of memory and the weft of conjoined lives, the narrative follows middle India, even as it records the struggles for individual growth, with successive generations trying to break out of the stranglehold of the all-encompassing Indian family.

Ebbing and flowing like the waves of a pandemic, the novel is a clear-eyed chronicle of the tragedies of India’s encounter with the Coronavirus, the cynicism and despair that accompanied it, and the resilience and strength of the human spirit.


How people die remains in the memory of those who live on

Dame Cicely Saunders

True, this simple yet powerful line is, showing us that what and how we choose to live is what is left of us, after we move on to the next ‘echelon’ in the cosmic cycles. Our doings become the memories upon which reside the imagery we have spun through our actions and our presence, into the minds of those around us.

I just finished reading this amazing tale of love, loss, regret and resilience by Namita Gokhale titled ‘The Blind Matriarch’ and am left speechless. Seldom comes forth a title, I feel which is not simply a piece of writing but a pensive, yet realistically poignant meditation a writer shares as a part of their vision to the readers. A vision that is as enthralling as it is warm, enamouring you with relativity so intense that you simply cannot help but wonder if he/she has peeled the roof off your own life and peeped within.

The manner in which Namita ji manages to capture how a family is bound to the core in spite of differences of opinions, age and generation whilst putting forth the essential truth that though Death is the ultimate eventuality, still one can live on through their ideologies. The entire tryst portrayed with death, the camaraderie depicted between the master Matangi Ma and her long-standing servant Lali, the whole portrayal of her as the one presiding over and conducting the affairs of the family, which though a joint is dysfunctional. Bound, yet so diverse, when catastrophe strikes, at that point, do they all realize that they have to keep going on in spite of losing her, this is what makes up for one of the most powerful reads I have had in a long while.

The three children, their lives, how they are both intimidated, in awe of as well as derisive. The equation as far as the grandchildren go is completely another angle, what with its secrets and anguishes.

The complexities of the true internal life of an Indian joint family has brought to life, this is a book one can relate to because of its sheer proximity to the true incidences and happenings of the Indian culture, with the complete familial systems incorporated through ages in our lifelines.

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Also noteworthy is the fact that with the pandemic as the backdrop, this one only shines even more as an ideal example of resilience through the toughest and the most trying times. The true human spirit with which the entire race has managed to fight and overcome what can surely be termed as one of the most challenging and novel scenarios of our times, this piece of writing has brought out all the different hues of pain as well as the healing undertaken through and through.

Do you know something guys? Somehow our brain is a very funny, special object. It has the power to fight through and get above the most complex of problems and situations, because of the simple reason that it is cosmically wired to do so. The absence of something only teaches us its true value. Similarly, when met with a crisis, we tend to overcome it in the most optimal manner, our brain processing and providing the most plausible solution at that point in time. This wondrous aspect has not only been impounded and presented by Namita through this piece of writing, rather she has elucidated the finer, yet firmer aspects of hope and positivity through her work. 

The acceptance, the resilience, the whole aura the sweet, simple storyline creates is wondrous. The most important takeaway – The eventuality that yes, death shall be there and yet we have to go on relentlessly, pliant with whatever transpires, move forward with positivity.

A simply enthralling piece by Namita Gokhale. A writer, an author who resonates and creates the beauty of life, colouring her canvas with the most splendid aspects of human nature. It is always a pleasure reading her work, diving into her vision, encompassing her piece of mind and mulling upon it.

An honour! 

I hope you like the book review of The Blind Matriarch by Namita Gokhale Do let us know what you think in the comments.

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Ciao guys !!

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