WRITING STYLE: 2/5
ENTERTAINMENT QUOTIENT: 2/5
The Shreds of Character is a contemporary tale of a Sikh family where familial bonds are strained with unending issues of honour and pride.
In the family, there is a father who is tired of his wife’s constant nagging and his family’s increasing demands and expenses, and a mother who is hard-working but gradually withering, exhausted of her strenuous responsibilities towards her husband, children and her home.
The brother and the sister, the two children of the family, are constantly quarrelling, which soon turns sour and even deadly as the story progresses. It is basically a portrayal of the drama that erupts in a dysfunctional family.
Themes of honour and family form the major part of The Shreds of Character. The story starts with the performing of the Rakhri ritual that is conducted as a symbol of the exquisite relationship between a brother and sister, where the brother takes up the responsibility of protecting his sister from all evils of the World and the sister relies on her brother for security and love.
But, by the end of the story, it is clear that neither remember their obligations and strong bonding, as each is filled with hatred for the other and the brother is ready to even kill his own sister to quench his thirst for revenge.
But, is any revenge more important than a living being, more so, a blood relation? Does any mistake justify forcibly ending of a life for it? It is clear that a loving father or brother can change drastically against a girl in the name of honour and society.
There is a slight discussion on Indian tradition regarding sex and sexuality and its comparison with western culture from a generalized perspective.
The author, Jasbir Jagdeo, also reflects on different physical and psychological changes that occur when an individual attains puberty, the tumultuous emotions that one is bothered with and a million questions one desires to ask to understand their body and mind.
Moreover, there is the discussion on the dissimilarity in perception for a male trying to explore their sexuality against that for a female. Through certain instances, in the story, it is shown how the character of a man and a woman is observed and also, how men use forces like abuse, molestation and even rape to suppress a woman’s sexual movement.
Although the above-mentioned points were apparent, the author has not been able to portray such vital topics in a clear, definitive manner. The Shreds of Character had a low entertainment quotient that seldom gripped my interest as there was no growth in character or premise. A much-refined narration would have been preferred.
Although the character of Teji is portrayed as a foul-mouthed, arrogant person which is common in Indian society, the frequent use of strong, derogatory language, mostly against women, was against my taste.
Certain parts of the interaction among characters in The Shreds of Character were incomprehensible; it was as if the author was having a conversation with himself without much attention to the context of such exchange of dialogues.
Certain phrases were repetitive – “Don’t know”, “Eat Shit” and “Drainworthy” to name a few.
There was a lot of frustration, hatred and anger reflected by most of the characters in the story as if they were perennially ill-tempered. It was annoying to go through and adding to that annoyance was the use of a lot of bold letters as if the characters in the book were constantly shouting at each other!
Another problem I had with the writing style was the translation of common Hindi quotes into English, literally, like “What moment it was when I got married to you?” or “Don’t pretend to be a milk washed innocent girl”. This did not create the same impact or sense to the context as it does while using in Hindi.
I went on reading the story hoping for a good highpoint in the narration but unfortunately, the story ended abruptly without the much-needed conclusion.