In her first novel, Mridula Koshy writes about loss, longing and also the desire of being loved and explores exactly how the past redefines who we are.

You are watching: Not only the things that have happened

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Joanna Lobo

Book: Not Only The Things That Have HappenedAuthor: Mridula Koshy Publisher: HarperCollins Pages: 352 Price: Rs499

An aging Annakutty Verghese, wife of the crippled Thambi, is on her deathbed in a town in Kerala, yet unwilling to die. She has actually only one pinprick of hope that makes her desperate to continue to be alive. Her thoughts linger over the born-out-of-wedlock son she offered up for fostering over 30 years earlier. For her, he is The Lost Boy and also she longs to watch him prior to dying. Annakutty keeps informing her niece Nina, whom Annakutty has actually raised favor a daughter, “if it is actual, you deserve to remember not just the points that have actually happened, but also the things that are going to happen”. In a story that spans a 36-hour period and also travels between in Kerala and also Midwestern USA, Mridula Koshy paints a complex internet of memories, both real and also imagined.

In these 36 hours, Koshy charts a journey for her characters that take a trip back and forth in time. Koshy starts off in the present, time travels to the previous and then moves on to an imagined future. It might be confmaking use of however Koshy does her little to encertain a smooth reading.


Annakutty’s story makes up the first part of Not Only The Things That Have Happened. We meet her initially as a 16-year-old in Cochin and also her life proves to be full of adventures and heartbreak. She drops in love with a male from her stepmother’s village, is sent to a nunnery in Madras, has actually a son out of wedlock via a priest and is coerced right into offering the toddler up for fostering. Finally, she marries Thambi, a one-legged male who is a lot older than her, brings up her niece (Nina) and also tries to uncover the son she’d offered up for adoption.

Her son, christened Asa Gardner by his adoptive parental fees, features in the second component of the novel. Asa’s life, sadly, is not as happy as his birth mom hoped it would certainly be. Originally adopted by a Germale couple, he’s purposely left behind at a railmeans station in Delhi by the husband also. Little Madhu becomes friends with the other beggar children living on the platform and also starts adhering to them roughly till he is rescued by an “Office” (an adoption agency). Eventually he is adopted by a an Amerihave the right to couple. While Annakutty has a phantom of a kid to whom she clings, Asa has the task of trying to affix with his six-year-old daughter who stays with his estranged wife. As he does so, he finds himself grappling the memories of the life he once had actually with his many kind of brothers at the railmethod terminal.

In a nutshell, Not Only... is a story around a woguy who gives up her young boy for fostering and then spends the rest of her life regretting that decision and living in the hope that he retransforms to her. Koshy supplies this acquainted story to discover the affect that Christianity has actually on world from rural Kerala to the deception and also financial muscle that is component and parcel of the fostering process in India. Asa’s life in America raises the question of whether adoption is necessarily the finest option for children from less privileged backgrounds. His initial years are invested trying to fit in and “performing” for the streams of human being who watch him nearly choose an circus exhibit that exists solely to highlight the great that the Gardners did by taking him in. The illusion of their happy family disintegprices as soon as the Gardeners’ daughter commits self-destruction. Asa leaves the home never to rerotate, spending his time in parks and on roads, begging for food. When he meets LeAnn, Asa believes he has a swarm at happiness and they get married. Unfortunately, she also leaves him, taking their daughter through her.


Not Only... weaves together stories of human being associated in Annakutty’s life: her niece Nina; her half sister and Nina’s mom, Tessiebaby; Valli, a tribal woguy Annakutty befrifinished when she was a new bride in a her husband’s village; and also finally Gretchen Oster, the Germale womale that first embraced Asa. Among the men in the novel are the village priest Father Paul and Unnikrishnan, the barber, that has the image of Annakutty walking naked on a road scorched into his brain. The event occurred after Annakutty’s stepmom Saramma uncovered the young Annakutty met a man after the family went to sleep, and so locked up every one of Annakutty’s apparel. This just served to incense Annakutty, who decided to brazenly walk out of the residence, naked, to prove her independence. For Unnikrishnan, however, there’s only one word that comes to mind as soon as he remembers this incident: shame.

Koshy’s descriptions of village life in Kerala are brilliantly etched and probably she’s mined them from the memory of the 2 years she lived there as a boy. From the method she writes around just how young girls gossip — their chatter punctuated by gaping mouths and also “Ay-yai-yyos” — Annakutty’s stepmommy shaving actually off her hair to lug her in line and also ultimately, walking out of the house naked, Koshy’s pclimbed is evocative and also richly-comprehensive. Rural Kerala’s obsession with religion, hypoinstrumental at ideal, is laid bare in scenes choose the one in which Catholics gather roughly Annakutty’s dead body mostly bereason they desire the refreshments offered that would be served after the prayers.

The weight of grief weighs greatly upon the novel. Each character bears this burden, dragging it together with their memories via the course of Not Only… The previous is full of longing, riddled with the need to be loved and desires of a better life. The only happy memories seem to Annakutty’s recollection of exactly how she met her one-legged husband Thambi, on a bus from Thambaram to Pondicherry. It’s a emotional love story in which the crippled Thambi agrees to take on Annakutty’s enduring and help her in fight to gain her boy earlier if she agrees to live with him. Thambi’s enattempt right into her life is the just happiness Annakutty finds in her life.

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Yet the sadness of the past and also the shifting sands of time don’t make the human being of Not Only… an overwhelming one to accessibility. On the contrary, when you enter Annakutty’s memories, it is challenging to withattract. Instead, you sink deeper and deeper into the lives and also losses that Koshy portrays so beautifully.