It is about a boy, his mother, his father and his sister. Or just about a boy growing up with his mother, whichever way you want to look at it. Jerry Pinto’s Em and the Big Hoom first baffles us with the title and then simplifies it in an extraordinary rapture. How does one deal with a manic-depressive mother who lives on beedi, suicide attempts and endless cups of tea? It is the story of that son who lives in a regular one bedroom flat along with his stoic father/stable sister family, and lives to loathe, love, pray, but in a way that is uncommon to people of his age.
Going back and forth, we see Imelda (Em) and Augustine (The Big Hoom) romancing as a couple, living with each other in sickness and in health, and most importantly trying to triumph over an incurable disease—all through the eyes of the son, who accepts yet rejects it all; with letters, funny anecdotes, cruel metaphors and everyday wars, they live the unseasoned life. Funnily, as a reader, despite the underlying tragedy, this book is a celebration of people and people, just a lot of different people, grappling with possibilities and never giving up.