Book Review: The Nomad Learns Morality by Tomichan Matheikal

the-nomad-learns-morality-400x400-imaed68jpqwaqgjfIn this era when social media plays a vital role to voice common people’s opinion, when the difference between the right and the wrong has become so subtle that one finds it difficult to find out, using the word ‘morality’ in the title of a book is sure to raise your curiosity. So, Tomichan Matheikal’s debut publication, The Nomad Learns Morality was pretty successful in making me feel intrigued by the name.

I’ve been following the author’s blog for quite a long time. His articles on myriad subjects reflect deep intellect and, a penetrating understanding of religion as it forms the life. Yes, whether we are ready to accept the fact or not, religion is an inseparable part of our being. It’s easy to say, “I’m not religious”, but an extensive viscera of one’s day to day activities and existence would clearly reveal the religious attachment. One can’t exist without it.

Now, why am I ranting about it? Because, The Nomad Learns Morality, a compilation of 33 stories, deals in an ingenious manner, with the effects of religion, mythology, history and Gods (be it Allah, Jesus or Ram) in our lives.

The book though has no distinct parts, but the readers can categorize the stories as mythological and modern. The book starts with the story of Ahalya, the first one of the Panchasati or Panchakanya, the extolled five women of Hindu epics and mythology. She was turned into a stone by the curse of her husband after having a coital relation with the king of Gods, Indra. The story has been told from a different perspective, the delusions of being and, the morality of accepting one’s own truth.

In the stories, “Sarayu’s Sorrow” and “Snakes and Ladders”, some pertinent questions have been raised, towards humanity and morality of the human beings. If we consider Lord Rama as the most iconic of the mortals with wisdom and perseverance galore, then why some consider his act of abandoning his wife, Sita as a floundered one? Was Rama himself was clear to his conscience? Or he was just a marionette in the hands of Destiny?

“The Autumn of the Patriarch”  once again raises the controversy between truth, morality, politics, and dharma. Which one is greater and is it actually possible to separate one from the other? Is it right to wager the wife in the name of Dharma? Is it virtuous to abnegate personal responsibility for a patriarch like Bhishma? The questions asked by Draupadi thousands of years ago, are still unanswered and shall remain so until the society would unlearn infantilizing women!

The thirst for knowledge is insatiable, even God and Satan were eager to find beyond. Was it the reason Eve was tempted to commit the “Original Sin”? An interesting perspective worth pondering. The story of the city of Sodom, Lot, and his daughters asks the same question in line with morality. Can an incest give birth to peaceful future generations or do the seeds of sin remain instilled in them, the “Children of Lust”?

The author has probed deeper and, asks the questions which might have stirred every logical mind. The stories not only make you mull over harder on a few things but also help to come out of parochialism. The greatness, Achilles, Alexander and Aurangzeb, somehow, they all concur at one point- to be buried and forgotten.

Then what is that makes one immortal? Embracing death without an iota of regret? Perhaps, the story,“Worship” has an answer.

There are stories that speak of the modern times, the virtues and vices. “Mayank Passes” and “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” delineate the condition of the educational system in modern society. A residential school with some stiff-necked recalcitrant students is the subject of the second one. The story has a remarkable ending.

Matheikal has raised questions showing the chutzpah of asking even those considered as controversial. Most of the times there exists a lacuna between logical thinking and imagination when it comes to stories integrating mythology and history. He has fulfilled the gap, in very few words, he has pointed out where we fall short. Nobody is spared. The beauty and boldness of his narration lie in the simplicity and subtlety. Never, not for once, he seems to be vociferous. Yet, the message is there.

Those who want a different read other than hunky-dory love stories, can safely lay your hands on The Nomad Learns Morality. Strongly recommended.

Buy Link: Flipkart
Author’s Blog: Tomichan Matheikal 

57 responses to “Book Review: The Nomad Learns Morality by Tomichan Matheikal

  1. A great detailed review, Maniparna.🙂

    I’m well acquainted with author’s writing style. I have mixed feelings. Sometimes, I agree with his POV, while some other times, I’ve my own versions. I agree with his Ahalya interpretation but don’t agree with his interpretation of Dharma. Overall, it’s a good read to form your own POV.

    • Well, dharma, the absolute path of righteousness, like hard science, is a cruel thing IMHO. It doesn’t bother about feelings, emotions or morality in the sense mortal beings like us follow. And, ironically, women, most of the times, are victims of Dharma.. I wish Matheikal Sir himself shared his thoughts on this topic. It would be a great discussion in that case…🙂

      • As per my understanding, Dharma isn’t absolute, but relative; that’s why, Krishna asked to follow Swah-Dharma in Geeta. It’s about self-righteousness. He further said that it’s better to die while following your own Dharma, instead of following someone else’s Dharma (Verse 3.35). So, every individual has his/her own Dharma. He also said to act according to your own nature. In this way, one is free from the burden of sin (18.47). In verse 18.66, he went a step further and said to abandon all Dharma to attain Moksha.

        The word ‘Dharma’ is derived from the root word ‘Dhri’ which means ‘to hold.’ It has very vast scope. It’s impossible for me to limit it in a comment section. It requires a series of posts to grasp the concept of Dharma in its entirety. If you are interested in having a discussion on it, I could take an initiative on my blog.🙂

  2. बहुत सुंदर वर्णन, मनिपर्णा जी। किताब पढ‌‌ने की इच्छा हो रही है।

  3. That was an in-depth review of the book. I’m gonna pick it up soon.
    A Very Happy New Year to you.


    Style.. A Pastiche! – Visit me sometime!

  4. A beautiful review, Maniparna. I have recently started to follow Tomichan and read his first fiction two days ago. Loved it! Even I find his political and religious analysis incisive and learned, not that I understand politics much.

    Your review entices one to search for the book, and rightly so.🙂

    • Glad to know you are following his posts…I absolutely agree with your words regarding his writing skill🙂

      Politics is not my forte either..I don’t like it, too complicated for me…😀
      Thanks a lot. I sincerely hope that you’ll like the stories…go for this one if you can manage time…🙂

      • Certainly. I have read only one of his fictions, and rest non fictions. Liked it. Will try to get my hands on it.

        You are right. Politics is indeed too complicated for simple souls like us.😀

  5. I am so happy that intelligent people like you are picking up the book, reading it and posting their views on it. Good literature ought to be popularized. And the stories in this collection are worthy of a lot of critical appreciation. I am also glad to know that you have enjoyed it too. Your review is awesome. Need to learn to structure my reviews as well as you do. I seem to go haywire at times…:)

    • You are way too generous, Sunaina🙂 Thank you so much…🙂

      I agree with your views regarding the book. The stories do have messages, but much more have been conveyed by the unsaid words. I’ve gone through your reviews as well, they are impeccably done…🙂

  6. “the effects of religion, mythology, history and Gods (be it Allah, Jesus or Ram) in our lives”

    One of my favorite topics. Really! Sounds interesting.

  7. Pingback: Book Review: The Nomad Learns Morality by Tomichan Matheikal | Matheikal's Blog·

  8. Nice this is really interesting. I have followed Matheikal’s blog too for a while and he has a nice writing style. Great to know that he has come up with the book and it is always a great pleasure to read a collection of short stories🙂.. Wishing him all the best for this venture🙂

  9. Loved the review Maniparna. Yes, the title is very interesting and I enjoyed reading the snippets of the stories. Ethics and humanity are universal but morality is subjected to perceptions. Mr Matheikal seems to have hit the nail on the head with his stories. Intend to pick up the book.

  10. All the titles of the stories sound very familiar in some way or the other .. Like it is made to attract and then distort while reading the story .. Are they Mani?

  11. I like when someone is aware of all faiths or choices, even to believe or not. I try to feature others, calling the Bible “stories” and open to Allah, God, Ram, Goddess, Mother Nature and “Two Spirits.” The book’s stories sound very wonderful, Maniparna.🙂

    • You’ve the right approach, Robin. I also think in the same line. Why shouldn’t we know about other religions with an open mind?…That really helps. Thanks for the support, the book was really a different one…🙂

  12. Yes, media needs to be more responsible. Just a day back, while viewing the terror attack news at Pathankot, all the channels were showing different aspects of the similar news. In many scenarios this can create panic. Looks like an interesting read. Will check it out when the time permits.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s