Estuary by Perumal Murugan, Translated by Nandini Krishnan

Rating: 3 out of 5.

‘Estuary’ is a ‘fictional’ story set in Asurlokam. In his forward, the author says that he has always tried to write fiction as close to the truth. But this time, he wants to write ‘fiction’ without making it sound real. If you have read any of Perumal Murugan’s books before, you would know he has a stingy satirical take on our society and it’s malicious shortcomings. He has yet again bridged the gap between our world and a fictional asurlokam.

Asurlokam is a fictional world with Asurs and Asuris as the residents. The protagonist, Kumarasuran, is from the clan of Ravana and has had a successful and satisfying life. While growing up, he studied well and got a government job at an early age. It was when government jobs were coveted and looked up to. During the time, he was the most eligible bachelor in his town. He milked it to all its glory. His parents were proud of him, his neighbors jealous of him. He was the role model of his time. Time passes, and he and his wife, Mangasuri, birth a son. They name him Meghasuran, after their ancestor Meghnad. Times have changed, it’s almost a 2020 era in Asurlokam. Technology has taken over the lives of people. And their son is growing up in this technologically advanced era.

We get an insight into the anxiety that culminates in Kuamarasuran due to the changing times and the introduction of new and smarter youth. The contrast between his growing up challenges and opportunities is far from his son’s. A lot of it is better now, but it is also new for the older generation. Kumarasuran strives hard to keep up with the changing times and learning about it. But in the meantime, he is perplexed with a lot of anxiety and concerns about his son. He’s worried about getting his son in a new college, the intermingling of opposite sexes in the college, his son falling into the trap of internet pornography and getting addicted to games.

Eventually, he overcomes the fear and worries by understanding the intensity of his fears and letting go. He learns to adjust himself to the changing time by changing himself.

It’s pretty amusing to see how the author tried to create the fictional world, but yet again, it’s a story of our world. Everything that is happening in asurlokam is happening in our lives. It’s his take on the generation gap and the challenges and anxiety that are attached to it. There’s no doubt the younger generation will always be more adaptable to new technical changes than the older generation. But the only way to move ahead is to not be overwhelmed and to embrace the new way of living.

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