Rohinton Mistry with his novels like Such a Long Journey (1992) and A Fine Balance (1996) showed to the literary world that he is a novelist who believes in depicting life as it really is. Both the novels exhibit his excellent understanding of Indian social life. A veracious portrayal of the Indian middle class is the high point in Mistry’s narratives. His bitterness and disappointment with the government’s hostile attitude towards the poor is evident in his novels.
Such a Long Journey (1991) is a great work of art by Rohinton Mistry. The novel announces Mistry’s advent as a gifted Indian writer. The novel is set against the background of the Indo-Pak war of 1971. It delves into the human predicament meted of its central character, Gustad Nobel whose hopes are shattered by circumstances beyond his control. Mistry depicts Gustad Nobel as a classical tragic hero. Gustad appears to be completely serene and tranquil in his approach towards life. His sufferings and struggle with fortitude and humility in life reminds us of the classical tragic hero’s life and sufferings. The novel has an optimistic note with its hero making a journey which takes him from hopelessness to hope.
The novel derives its form from the classical literary tradition. Mistry’s narration reminds the readers of the great tradition where the novelist not only changes the possibilities of art for practitioners and readers but becomes significant in terms of that human awareness they promote -- the awareness of the possibilities of life. We find the elements of comedy, tragedy and satire in the novel. We also find Mistry sharing his thoughts on beliefs, superstitions, the super natural, rites, nationalistic ideas, humanism, discrimination, secular views and so on and so forth. We find the central character of the novel, Gustad, having pains and sufferings in his life. The readers are reminded of the fact that no happiness can last forever.
In the opening of the novel, Gustad is described as a God-fearing man, the envy of all:
Tall and broad –shouldered, Gustad was the envy and admiration of friends and relatives whenever health or sickness was being discussed.(Mistry, 1992: 12)
He is a bank employee and has three children. During the course of the novel we find that Gustad’s hopes, dreams and aspirations get shattered. He considers destiny to be the cause of his misfortunes. The sudden disappearance of Major Bilimoria, who had been a loving brother to him and a loving and affectionate uncle to his children, from Khodadad building, his son’s Sohrab’s aggressive temper and bad manners and finally his refusal to become an IIT student, the prolonged illness of his daughter, Roshan, his receipt of a package from Major Bilimoria and the trouble thereafter to hide ten lakh rupees, his close friend Dinshawji’s illness and his ultimate death, the death of Tehmul Langra, an idiot and retarded child of the Khodabad building and the destruction of his sacred wall by the municipal...