Othappu: The Scent of the Other Side By Sarah Joseph

“ Othappu” had made a great impact on the readers especially female readers as the book is written in feminist point of view and written by a feminist called Sarah Joseph. In this book the portrayal of the female characters shows the real conditions of women in kerala especially in Christian community. The book dealing with the other side of the Christian faith written and translated by followers of the same faith. On the surface, othappu is the journey of an implusive young nun, who gets into the wrong vocation and then walks out of it, of a focused young priest who is clear that his priesthood is his family’s only monetary escape route, of a mad woman who calls herself receiver of the holy-spirit, of a wayward priest who lives in the jungle and of a family that is too illustrious to receive an ex-nun even if she is the only daughter of the house. As Sarah Joseph in the author’s note very rightly puts, “the desire to be a nun lingers in the following time of every catholic girls life”, Marghalitha Varkey was no different from that desire. Her loving family of mother father, an elder and a younger brother support her desire and she takes the next obvious step. She joins the habit, becomes a nun. But misunderstood desire is what it was she wanted to serve humanity at the core. She found spirituality with her body against the notions of the church, she was too aggressive to be a nun and so for the peace of her soul destroying everything that the society reverses she walks out of her ascetic life.
“The wind blows this way and goes. The same wind blew yesterday. After wandering about it will return as the wind of tomorrow”
By Father Roy Francis Karikkan
Othappu is based in the Christian community of kerala and as a divine intervention, the book travelled with me as I went back packing to the land of backwaters, to where Vasco De Gama and his associates brought their belief to this country, to where it all started. The author though to narrate a story based in a particular community it is a comment on the society and its patterns as a whole irrespective of religion community or region. Some important questions are raised, answers are seeked and the reader journey\s into the cynicism that only religion can provide.
The book is the evident to describe the tough journey of a woman who wants to do things in her life according to her wish but not according to the wish of the society. The made dominant society is clearly portrayed in this book where women can’t raise their voice till men allows them to talk and treat women as equal to men. This book reveals such a point that woman can live alone even her husband leave her alone in the society, through the character Marghalitha, she lives alone with her children and without her husband at the end.
Review by
R. Gayathri

Author: Book Club India

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