Are we but helpless victims to our own circumstances? Are we defined by our actions, judged but not even attempted to be understood? These were the questions that floated about in my head while reading A Fine Balance, the questions that I knew I just had to write about. But, before I dive into them, maybe a brief synopsis of one of the character’s life is in order.
Dina Dalal (maiden name is Shroff) is a stubborn and cynical woman, which means she’s the perfect character to be annoyed with and hate, right? Well, I couldn’t. Knowing about her tumultuous and tragic life starting with the death of her father at a very tender age was enough for me to understand why she was the way she was. She was a bright and ambitious girl who dreamed of being a doctor. Unfortunately, her life spiralled out of control with the passing of her father, everything unraveling right before her eyes. Nusswan was a troll of a brother, without a clue in the world of how to handle a little sister and a slowly disintegrating mother. However, Dina found solace seated in the theatre, listening to musicians playing away at their instruments. It was the perfect place to meet her love, Rustom Dalal. He was her escape, but he was only a temporary safe haven as he too died in a fatal accident. Now, she struggles to pay the bills on time and scrambles to keep her life together. With the other characters (Maneck, Ishvar, and Omprekesh) woven into her life, we see her grow… but I wont go further, as I’ll just be ruining the book for you. But, as you can clearly see, Dina has lead a tough life.
“Everybody’s got a story that could break your heart” – Amanda Marshall
It’s true. Even though Dina is a fictitious character, there are people in this world that have had similar lives, that have faced similar trails and tribulations like those of Dina’s. Some of us are victims of our situation. Remember, there are variables that one cannot control; the most infamous and revered is death. A death of a loved one could severely alter your life, just like what happened with Dina’s life void of her father and husband. It’s difficult to conceive if you haven’t gone through struggles like these, but they happen. However, in that being said, how many of us actually take the time to think about that upon contact with another person? How many of us empathize and get to know them as opposed to immediately judging them and staying away? Knowing people’s struggles puts them into context, thus enabling empathy to take root in our hearts.
So instead of leaving you with a question, I’ll end with this: A world without empathy would be a cruel world indeed.