Review of Being Good Enough by Rohini Paranjpe Sathe

Being Good Enough
Being Good Enough – Book Cover

Being Good Enough is the journey of Jyoti, who stays in a chawl in Mumbai trying to leave behind her troubled past and working hard to give her son a bright future, hiding from him all the curses and abuses she faced. However, past has a penchant of catching up with the present and Jyoti’s life would not be any different. Rohini Paranjpe Sathe’s debut novel ‘Being Good Enough’ is a tale of human flaws and beliefs of a patriarchal society and how experiencing them and fighting them make us stronger and more humane.

Will Jyoti be able to handle the surprising challenges which life has in store for her? Will she be able to find peace and secure her son’s future? Will she be able to hide whatever she was trying to hide or will those wreck havoc in her life? In order to know the answers to all those queries, one needs to definitely become a companion of Jyoti in her adventurous journey.

The many mysteries the story put forth are unraveled in a very fluid manner. The story shuttles between Mumbai and Delhi – the present residing place and the home of the past. The story set up in Delhi talks about Jyoti’s family, her childhood, her promiscuous youth, the mistakes she committed, her trap marriage with a gay person, her friendship with her gay husband and finally giving birth to her son and running away from the place. The description of her tenure in Delhi highlighted a lot of societal stigmas and contraptions like patriarchal dictates and religious divides and how they mingle to make life harder for females. It also shows the hypocrisy of the people in power – how they shun any religion other than their own but will join hands with people of another religion to fulfill their vested interests.

Jyoti’s present takes place mostly in a “chawl’’ in Mumbai and is visually evocative. The space constraint, people sharing walls, yards as well as bathrooms to the strong bonding shared between the neighbors – every aspect has been depicted in a crisp manner. Jyoti’s story begins in a crowded Mumbai market, it gradually unfolds amidst the differing societal and religious beliefs in Delhi and finds a climax back again in Mumbai.

What I loved most about the novel is its characterization. The characters are all shades of grey which make them more believable and relatable. They all are an integral part of the story and have a story tell. The ease with which the narration was done, jumping from the present to the past and again back to the past is noteworthy. Another aspect which I loved was the usage of lyrics of Hindi songs – from the past till the present portraying not only emotions but the passing of time as well. The book cover with the picture of a mother holding the hand of her son with the city skyline as backdrop deserves special mention. It was able to perfectly give us an idea what the novel is about.

If you want to embark on a modern and realistic journey via a book, I would definitely recommend reading Being Good Enough. For Rohini Paranjpe Sathe I can only say that her debut novel is ‘really good enough’. It is a light read but with an emotionally and intellectually enriching story line and poignant storytelling.

So don’t wait anymore and buy the book now here now.