There are some books which give you high hope of being one of a kind, yet it is difficult to fathom if it is your kind or not. Poonachi is one such book. A political satire to a great extent, though I hadn’t known when I put it on my list months ago, it is bound to make you unhinged. A gem in the plethora of dirt that is available these days, this book will leave no stone unturned in compelling you to think about your life choices.
An unnamed old man brings a tiny black goat kid home to his old wife, home, their thatched roof dump of a place. Handed over to him by a mysterious and very big stranger, they name the little goat Poonachi. In their custody, Poonachi now lives. But her kind in their house snub her and the old woman is left with no choice but to feed Poonachi with a tube to keep her alive.
As Poonachi picks herself up, she faces danger from unseen forces, a couple of attempts on her life yet she manages to live. Her exuberance of life is just too much for her kind, and she mostly ends up singular all the time. Happy and gay, each day seems joyful, until she takes the journey to visit the daughter of the old couple. On the way, she tastes freedom but is petrified of what would happen next. Overjoyed on reuniting with her old woman, her next steps take her towards her first brush with love, a young buck takes her heart away. Pining for her love, she is forced to birth a litter impregnated with a ram who she can’t even see.
A miracle goat is what she is. Birthing seven at a time is not what is common in the authoritarian government that the folks live in. From ear piercing to record-keeping of every single step that any man, woman, or animal takes, the officials torment them to no end. But life isn’t easy, even for a miraculous goat when the entire state is on the edge of famine. Famished, the old couple struggles to feed themselves and their livestock, selling off each one by one to sustain and keep their miracle goat. The suffering is endless and time is short, the pregnant Poonachi, who once clung to life like a spider to its web, finds her breath ebbing away with each stroke of the clock.
Bringing forth the plight of marginalized farmers and laborers with as much aplomb and rhythmic landscapes, Murugan has nailed it. No wonder his books create a furor. Living in the constant fear of the government officials and trying to earn from whatever they could, the old couple is the face of our country’s below existence. Grains are a luxury and rearing livestock is a necessity, males forced to impregnate and then become meat, the females forced to breed. Their fate is as doomed as that of the buck in the butcher’s house. Poonachi is no good either. Through her, Murugan gives us a glimpse of the lives of human women, forced to survive on scraps, tied and forced to mate and birth, and become the bearers of the calamity before their male counterparts. What keeps her going is her irresistible joy at being alive, one which human females are not privy to. But all changes when she suffers her sorrows. She becomes on with her human tribe. Life loses its meaning other than looking at her children, who are a pain in the as* yet she cries when they are sold.
Poonachi brings forth the miseries of the land. Gearing up for a wonderful life, she is utterly broken by its daunting attitude. Limping with tail between her legs, she falls back to the place she grew, waiting for the end to come and consume her.
Before signing off, Poonachi – Or The Story of a Black Goat by Perumal Murugan is available on Amazon Prime reading, and this is for all my reader folks. Go grab it and read.