“To start at the start is to start with cross-purposes and contradictions,”- The To-Let House
The To-Let House by Daisy Hasan is a very unique book, for me at least. It’s different, dark and soothing at the same time. And when you finish reading it, there’s an eerie silence and you realize you have read a masterpiece!
The To-Let House starts with the childhood of Di, Addy, Kulay and Clemmie set in Shillong and follow them into their adulthood, with the background of thematic To Let House set in the grounds, an unsettling presence over the story.
Kulay and Clemmie reside with their drunk mother May in the colonial era house, along with the Governor. On the other hand, Di and Addy reside in the To-Let House with their Ma. Till now, the story might sound a plain one, following four kids into their adolescense. But that’s the point when Daisy Hasan’s amazing story telling skill hit you like a Jackhammer!
Di, Addy, Kulay and Clemmie witness their own families breaking up, cracks visible to even outsiders. Di and Addy’s Ma leaves her husband to come live in the To-let House, Kulay and Clemmie see violence in their parents marriage, May and her husband are branded traitors in the community for harboring dhkars (“outsiders”) on their property; and misfit as a child, Kulay joins forces with anti-dhkars outfit. At the end, the novel doesn’t give a satisfying conclusion, but a simple lull takes over you, pushing a question in your thoughts that what does belonging mean to an outsider? Yes, the book might still sound very simple to you, but it is something which can push a lot of thoughts around in your mind.
The To-Let House is a book which introduces you to a very unique concept of writing, something which i have never come across. Daisy Hasan flawlessly introduces stylistic sentences which might look good and to some readers, but can easily unplug reader from the book as well. Domestic violence, family complications and on the spot made nursery rhymes that attracts a reader but is also risky as the reader might feel like skipping a few pages. I personally loved the areas where childhood of Di, Addy, Kulay and Clemmie is described flawlessly.
The only thing that puts a limit on the To-Let House story is that it’s not everybody’s cup of tea. Though it is a very unique book that everyone should divulge into, but the not-so-regular readers might not devour into this one. For serious readers like me, To-Let House is a paradise.