A Burning is a slice of real life incidents that are occurring in the Indian Subcontinent every day. As we look around, the threat to democracy is evident and yet we watch in silence as the state, the leaders that are meant to govern, the opposition that must topple the existing leaders, and the media that aligns with either sides, depending on the quantum of currency transacted play the game of manipulating the common man’s mind- The so-called educated, oblivious, the illiterate and naïve.
We all are silent spectators being manipulated on repeat mode, changing our opinions as they spin convincing tales, to bemuse us. Megha Majumdar takes a shot at bringing that to the fore, a story of three such people- the protagonist Jivan, whose single casual comment on social media after a weary day leads to chaos. She becomes the scapegoat of an agenda set by the state. Her life is manipulated by a man she knows as ‘PT Sir’ who could have been her mentor, father figure, but chooses his personal political career growth over her.
Amidst this is a voiceless transgender ‘Lovely’ with Bollywood dreams, an unexpected friend of Jivan who musters courage to repay her for her kindness, solely to be left unheard. The climax is as expected in all cases where the destiny of a prodigy who could have been an ‘Olympic Gold medalist’ or a sports woman par excellence earning multimillion dollar deals to promote brands is cut short to the wails of a mother, whose only fault is being mother to Jivan.
The story stays with you forever, and as we encounter many Jivans ,lovelies on the street, on television screens or between lines of a newspaper. There’s a knock on the conscience- a reminder of your inaction, the irresponsibility with which we use the fundamental right to vote.
Shortlisted for the booker prize, it is win worthy. This book must be read. A fantastic debut by an Indian author.