Tuesday, June 25, 2013

When Past Meets Present, And Future

The Sad Demise Of Nina’s Aunt’ – that’s how the tale begins, and then gradually progresses, through characters that come in and out of their shells, narrating their sides of the story, and the flow of events, as time silently listens.

Yes, time plays an integral part in the novel 'Not Only The Things That Have Happened', which takes place over a thirty six hours period, but also stretches wide through several decades to bring all the pieces together. Annakutty is the protagonist of the novel, and the plots, and subplots, revolve around her, and her attempts to reconcile with her loneliness. She fails, though, in coming to terms with the loss of her son, born out of wedlock, whom she had given up for adoption. The boy, becomes a man with the passage of time and destiny, and struggles to identify himself with an unknown past. It is this struggle, and the unfamiliarity ingrained deep in their lives, that form the crux of the story.

As we roll over the pages, we witness moments of subtle numbness that haunt as well as soothe us, tears and smiles walk hand in hand, and we are effortlessly transferred from the fresh promises of hope to the dusty terrains of despair. Mridula Koshy, better known for her acclaimed short story collection ‘If It Is Sweet’, presents to the readers a tale of longing that’s full of heart and soul, counting the absences, and often posting the unanswerable question – “What if.”

At a point in this novel, Annakutty tells her niece Nina, “If it is real, you can remember not only the things that have happened, but also the things that are going to happen.” In a way, this belief confronts the facts that we have learnt to term as obvious, and instead gives us the power to bestow in all that we had wished to be true.

The story telling is immaculate, brilliant at parts, and accompanied with a beauty that is raw and divine. Each of the chapters narrates a different perspective, and we, delve deeper into the words, transforming ourselves into the characters of the book. The description is spot-on, with the Kerala villages painted in an absolutely stunning manner; the idiosyncrasies and the traditional norms highlighted that reflect the true picture of the society.

The characters rise and grow beyond the pages, transcending the immortality of words. You identify with them, and learn to live with them, so much so that even their unnatural behavior seems justifiable. Mark my words; characterization is the biggest strength of this story. Annakutty, Asa, Saramma, Tessie, Nina, Gretchen, Marge and Juice Uncle sneak into your mind, and stays within you long after you have finished this novel.

Like a work of art this novel narrates its tale, and you are drawn hypnotically towards its innate charms. Do not disengage yourself; rather, drift with the flow, and delve deeper into the trance. This book is about emotions of love, loss, trust and more, and once you are done unraveling the numerous tales hidden within the pages, you ponder over the firm faith that served as Annakutty’s strength throughout her life - “If it is real, you can remember not only the things that have happened, but also the things that are going to happen.

Title: Not Only The Things That Have Happened
Author: Mridula Koshy
Publisher: Fourth Estate
Publication Year: 2012
Language: English
Binding: Hardcover
No. of Pages: 360
My Rating: 4/5

Buy this book here.


  1. I cordially wanted to read this book, thanks for the review. I must buy the book :)

  2. I thank you for the review. I have been getting into reading again so I love reading reviews. I will add this to my must-read list!

    1. I am glad I could be of some help :-)

  3. Yes, seems to have a very interesting structure!

  4. You are a great reviewer who is able to incite curiosity in the book that you review.

    1. Coming from you, this means a lot :-)