Arzee The Dwarf

arzee_the_dwarfArzee The Dwarf

by Chandrahas Choudhury | 184 Pages | Genre: Fiction| Publisher: HarperCollins India| Year: 2009 | My Rating: 8/10

“I am myself in my thoughts too much,
I seek recourse to myself too soon,
My days don’t stand up without a crutch,
I sing my own song out of tune.
I stand before the mirror too long,
Stare big at the eyes that return my gaze,
My shadow seems to me more strong
Than my shrunken heart, that lonely place.
My worries hang about me like clouds,
And my creditors they come calling,
My being is riven by spooks and doubts,
The walls of my house are falling.
In mine own alleys I traipse and turn,
Dreamlike I float through nights and days,
I watch the hours slowly burn,
And do not leave on time my trace.
I myself speak and myself hear,
And myself act and myself see,
My own self extends far and near,
And so I cannot myself be.”

– Chandrahas Choudhury, Arzee The Dwarf

In his debut novel, Chandrahas Choudhury has skillfully captured the nuances of intimate life and dreams of Arzee, who’s a midget, working at an old cinema hall in Mumbai as a deputy projectionist. Even though all the thirteen chapters revolve around him and he’s the protagonist of this novel, Choudhury has not projected him as a larger-than-life hero, which makes his world as interesting as that of a common man, yet one cannot stop feeling sympathy for that man whose all troubles stem from him being a midget or a dwarf. So much so that the characters around him forget his last name Gandhi, and instead address him as ‘Arzee the dwarf’. The beauty of this books lies in its prolific prose and colloquial dialogues portraying time and space, old world charm portrayed through the dying Noor cinema and modern day problems of love, money, and self-image, the memorable characters that even ‘The Babur’ the projection machine, which is Indian mutation of its German name Bauer seems to breath life. The novel ends without a definite ending as if Choudhury was overcautious to continue, leaving the readers to decipher it themselves about the new turns Arzee’s life is to take.

This novel full of pathos and pragmatism is my Read of the Week.

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