Once again, I’ve spent my day deeply submerged in a book. A Fine Balance is about strife and struggle and the rare compassion that it breeds. On more than one occasion I would find myself tearing up at the misfortune of the characters. I have so much to say about these people. There’s this haunting feeling inside that I have seen them through blurred vision, much like that of Dina, one of the four protagonists. In both my travels in India and at home, I have not paid enough attention to ordinary honest people subjected to governmental and gang violence and oppression. Even though this is a work of fiction, I know that the atrocities and inhumanity described occur. I’m embarrassed to say that I don’t acknowledge it more or act against it.
Fasting voluntarily has reminded of that not everyone can afford to eat three meals a day, sometimes not even one, that not everyone who believes in Islam can afford to make the pilgrimage to Mecca, that not everyone is healthy enough to fast. It’s something I desperately wish I could change but through Mistry’s prose, I’ve come to accept that there is a greater, corrupt hierarchy that plays havoc with the lives of people. God has given us free-will but godless humans have taken that away from so many.
A lot of my friends give me confused looks when they realise that I’m fasting for Ramadan as a non-Muslim. They used to bother me because I detected judgment in those looks. Now, I’m simply grateful to be able the choice to do so.
You know that feeling you get when you’ve finished a novel. That wistfulness that overcomes you when you close the book and you’re left to stare at the back cover in sehnsucht. This is how I felt after A Fine Balance. This is how I feel on the second to last day of Ramadan.