G.B.Prabhat, the author of Eimona, has impressive credentials. He is a pioneer in offshore consulting business and a well known name in the global IT/business consulting space. Eimona is his second novel, and after an interesting opening, rapidly paces to an amazingly engrossing read, very rich in words and full of events and eminently suitable for a non-stop read.
The humor and the depth of characterization, the distinct messages and thoughts centered on each of the characters are indeed telling. The new flat world is forcing disparate cultures to come together in an enmeshed way – with business and new-found prosperity accelerating the pace of life like never before, resulting in practices and events that were unthinkable a couple of decades back. These happen quite routinely and have the potential effect of denting the fabric of society and traditional family values.
Eimona is certainly amongst the early attempts to capture and bring out in its own brilliant way that these advancements come with a trade-off. Invariably society and most individuals pay a price for pursuing things that are centered on the such things as “live for the moment,” or “follow-the-group syndrome.” The deleterious consequences of such a mechanical life, characterized by hollow plastic smiles and superficial values, generally follow hauntingly and unfailingly. Prabhat’s work is woven brilliantly, combining wit, humour, false values, aimless materialism, simplicity, and virtuous life, and raises serious questions.
The novel is set in Madras in India and captures the nuances of Eimona, a place that does not physically exist on any of the continents but alas perhaps exists everywhere in this flat world. Clearly the message is universal even though the setting may be contextual.
What is Eimona? It is the reverse of anomie – “an affliction that causes the victim to have social interaction that’s lower than the usual standards in the group, a sort of rootlessness,” For Subbu, the 84-year-old simple man who is the key character in the novel, the world as he sees it is changing so fast in all its facets that established norms turn upside down. The way the change in norms are captured and presented makes the reading absorbing, filled as they are with good humor and deeply thought out observations.
Subbu’s mind goes back and forth and assesses events and happenings based on new norms highlighting the conflict between the New India of stock options and artificial values and the Old India. The cold blast that hits Subbu in the form of fortunes that get built based on stock options, the prenuptial agreements, and the different business setups where the employed and the organization have a purely contractual relationship make reading of the novel a very meaningful exercise. For example, when his great-granddaughter is born, he worries that she should not be named with the new economy tongue-twisters – Vrimnolika, Karnishta or Avnita. He is relieved when she is named Maya, a simple but traditional name.
Subbu, who has seen so many of his family members gone forever in his lifetime dotes on the eight-year-old Maya, his great-granddaughter. The powerful characterization of the ever uncertain Bharat, a successful investment banker and Subbu’s grandson and his personable but aggressive wife Indu, an executive in a software firm, adds to the richness of the plot. Of note are the ways the events move when she can’t accept their young daughter’s nonchalant attitude towards the e-world’s modern tools – online chat, games, and all other non-academic activities, while the girl loves nature and pursues simple interests, which transcend social class and technology barriers. A nature-loving child becomes a problem child when she does not get attracted to the Internet, expected of her in these times.