Poonachi by Perumal Murugan- A 2018 Best Read

Poonachi is surely going to be ranked as my favourite read in the year 2018. It may seem to be a simple tale of a small black goat and of an old couple who adopt it, yet this book manages to communicate much more than just a story. It speaks of the society we are part of, the complexity of our times and how we are as individuals- selfish and self-centered.

The Story of a Black Goat

How does one review a book like Poonachi? Sans complex characters, with a focus on one single animal as protagonist this book brings in such a big punch. Packed with subtle humor, this satire despite being a translation has managed to retain its true essence. The book gets you thinking; it warms your heart and manages to entertain you as well. Poonachi or the story of a black goat is written by Perumal Murugan and translated by N. Kalyan Raman.

“I am fearful of writing about humans; even more fearful of writing about Gods. I can write about demons, perhaps. I am even used to a bit of the demonic life. I could make it an accompaniment here. Yes, let me write about animals. Dogs  are meant for poetry. It is forbidden to write about cows and pigs. That leaves only goats and sheep.” –

From Poonachi

From the puny little kid to the mother of many- The life of Poonachi

She is the little black goat who becomes an integral part of an old couple’s life in a small village. At the brim of poverty and struggling to make ends meet, the old couple receives her in a mysterious way. Unable to let her go, the lady of the house decides to mother the hapless little one. What follows is life through the world of Poonachi, the black goat. Her struggles are pitiable, yet she fights to survive through them all. From learning to be independent, falling in love and experiencing motherhood, the gamut of emotions brought about through Poonachi reflects our very own ones, signaling that these animals aren’t very different from us humans.

What’s unique in the book

Through the eyes of the goat, Perumal Murugan brings in a powerful voice that addresses the existence of hierarchy in society, love & desire and the struggles faced between life & death. Perumal draws many parallels- one being to the lives of women, the burdens they carry and the sacrifice of their own dreams and aspirations. With just his central character Poonachi, he brings out various other issues – of farmers’drought, debt and hunger.

A brilliantly crafted tale, this satire helps us reflect inwards

His sarcasms in the narrative are hilarious and bring in a decent entertainment factor. The book does begin on a slow note, and I must confess, I even began to wonder if it would hold my interest for long. But 15-20% into the book and the tale becomes as beautiful as can be. Parts did seem a bit un-relatable, but I would want to blame that on my own lack of knowledge on the reality of life in rural India.

The simple yet deep tale

The book isn’t a large volume to read. Yet, in those 200 odd pages it packs in a whole magnitude of passions and sensations. Straightforward, with a touch of brutal honesty too, this book will make your heart ache. Poonachi is an emotional journey and will surely stay with you for a long time to come.

Poonachi: Or the Story of a Black Goat

The book is available on Amazon in paperback and e-book format.

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