Indian English novels with meaningful content have become occasional, if not rare. Though I am not hoping that one comes on my reading desk too frequently, I will say that luck has favoured me many times. This time, I got my hands on this title, The Tailor’s Needle, written by Lakshmi Raj Sharma, a professor of English Literature at Allahabad University. I am sure that the title will give too many hints to all those readers of Indian English fiction who are serious in nature and desperate for a sensible piece of writing that does not only entertain but also gives something more than that. The Tailor’s Needle is a story of a Brahmin family. It takes the readers back to the days of British rules in India. The novel covers a period of the years 1917 and onwards, up to the early 1940s. The storyline chiefly concerns with the psychological, social and national sentiments.
The Tailor’s Needle, what I can make of it, is a metaphor that is aptly used for the novel’s central character, Sir Saraswati Chandra Ranabakshi, who begins as the prime minister of the King of Kashinagar but leaves the post after his death. Sir Saraswati is a character who treats the English characters in more an English way than they could ever do. However, at the same time, he treats his Indian friends in a completely Indian way and this is what makes him the tailor’s needle – equally equipped for everyone and never partial in his actions or thoughts.
Sir Saraswati’s three children, Maneka, the eldest, Yogendra, the only son, and Sita, the youngest, are also at the very centre of the novel’s plot. However, Maneka dominates the scene and her actions and thoughts are almost rebellious and out of his time. Her character has been designed in a way that you can easily guess she might be a misfit in that storyline and this is what makes her character as well as the novel even more interesting. She falls in love with the Collector of Mirzapur. She marries a person whom she cannot love. Her husband dies. She becomes irritating and annoyed and often bullies others, and Gauri, Yogendra’s love interest and a Vaishya by caste becomes a victim to Maneka’s rage more often than anyone in the novel.
The Tailor’s Needle by Lakshmi Raj Sharma is a novel that has been written very carefully and equally wonderfully. It allows the characters to develop at a natural pace. At the same time, while looking realistic, the characters also maintain their fictional flaws so that the readers can get the realistic imagery of pre-independence India as well as enjoy the fiction. It can be construed as a murder mystery, a crime thriller, a historical work of fiction or a social novel or as an amusing account of an Indian’s memoir who could be the Tailor’s Needle… It has many things to offer to the readers and anyone who reads it cannot remain silent but admire the work done by the novelist.
I will surely recommend this novel to many readers who want to read some serious writings by Indian novelists. This is their chance to read the work by someone who has done something that not many Indian authors do these days, offer a meaningful and literary rich fiction. You can get a copy of the novel from Amazon India in Kinde format and enjoy it.
(note: paperback editions are not available because of Coronavirus lockdown)
review by Akhilesh for Intellectual Reader
The Tailor's Needle by Lakshmi Raj Sharma - Book Review
- Intellectual Reader's Rating
The Tailor’s Needle is an aesthetically rich novel written wonderfully by novelist Lakshmi Raj Sharma. It takes the readers to those days of the British rule when Indian society was not only facing the lashes of the British but also the mental shackles imposed by ourselves…