Em and the Big Hoom
Em and the Big Hoom is a great novel. Why is it such a great novel? It is so great because it showcases the Indian Christian community, of a certain geographical region, so beautifully, perhaps as never before. In India, we believe that we live very harmoniously inter-religiously, and to a large extent this true. But only the most observant and perceptive mind will see that the various communities inter-relate with each other very peripherally unless it is the children who have lived in the boarding schools run by the Christian community where all communities live together. In these schools, children learn to stay together as children belonging to a single community. Even among these children, the relationship allows them to notice only limited aspects of other communities.
A book like Em and the Big Hoom allows the non-Christian communities to get a very close picture of the intimate lives of Indian Christians. These lives are very different to the people of the other communities; their preferences, their values and their general interests are substantially different because these people are rather simple and their machinations are also of a rather simple nature. There is a great difference between the simple folk of the Hindus, for instance, and those of the Indian Christians. When you read Jerry Pinto’s novel you get a very close view of the lives, emotions and idiosyncrasies of Indian Christians, particularly those of a particular Christian family. We love this novel because we see the unfamiliar side of this community.
The art of this novel lies in telling of a certain woman who is affectionately called Em and her odd but endearing reactions and problems. Similarly, the figure of Big Hoom is equally interesting. The reader sees how these people go about tackling their problems in a way so different to the ways of others. I have never read anything quite like it. We see human nature reduced to its naked form but within the limits allowed among Indian Christians. Readers of other communities watch this from the outside like children watch animals in the zoo.
Please reading this endearing tale and see what a wonderful author Jerry Pinto is.