I used to think that as far as fiction on Parsi life and culture is concerned, Rohinton Mistry has no equal. Little did I know, that his brother Cyrus Mistry easily qualifies as one.
I was fascinated with the plot of Chronicles.... ever since I heard Cyrus Mistry talk about it at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, last year. The very prospect that there is an 'untouchables' segment within the Parsi community was hard to stomach. I knew I had to read this book.
I love the first person narrative and the memoir style nature of the book. The era in which the story is set, pre-independence Bombay, is another win for a golden age syndrome addict like me. Although, I wonder how different it would have turned out, had it been set in another time period, as most of the protagonist's time is spent within the confines of the Towers of Silence.
The Towers of Silence at Doongerwadi has always been a mystery to me. This book does help in giving us a lot of insight as to what goes on behind the scenes there. The fact that Parsis do not touch the dead is another thing I had no inkling about. It throws light on the hierarchical structure at not only an Agiary but also at Doongerwadi.
I liked how Mistry has explored the relationship between Phiroze and his parents, Sepideh, Vispy and the other corpse bearers. You almost feel sorry for his father towards the end. I did feel that Sepidehs character could havebeen explored further.
Melancholy is underlying leitmotif of this book. The were some parts in the book when I actually kept it aside as it got difficult to read ahead. Last time this happened was when I was reading The Kite Runner. You know a book has touched you at a deeper level when that happens.