When I Hit You (Meena Kandasamy)

Where do I start with this one?

This is a book about domestic abuse. About how this one fcuker thinks he’s all that when all he is, is shit. But the kind of shit that knows how to disguise himself as chocolate. And about the lady he marries who comes to learn the true nature of his organic composition as he unravels.

Yea. That’s my plot summary.

Brutal from the get go. I’m unsure just how autobiographical this is because it’s also listed as fiction. But here’s the thing, in all honesty, I didn’t like the writing style. The jumps in timeline, the going forward and backward, was tripping me bad. And certain parts of it just got me going what? When the narrator talked about getting visits from ghosts and red dots and I’m just there going just as crazy.

And it’s just the writing style is very detached… in a way. We get the lowdown of what’s happening, how’s everyone feeling, what’s everyone doing, how terrible shit is, but somehow it feels like the narrator herself is watching her life play out with a little… apathy? Like the memories have already been compartmentalised and are played like it’s someone else’s memory because it does sound and is very retrospective. And I don’t know if I like the retrospective story-telling. I don’t know. It’s like everything that happens in this book is so terrible that it just feels like it’s the normal. And I don’t like that. It’s not normal. The parents are trash. The friends are trash. The husband is shit and that’s a compliment. It’s not normal. But making it sound like it is might be a coping mechanism and I’m sure it happens in real life. But that just fcuks with me so bad. It upsets me greatly. At the end of the novel, there’s no payoff for the brutality of the book, in my opinion at least. Because somehow the narrator seems to be stuck. She can be all these amazing things but she is stuck amongst trash people and I hate that. The ending where the narrator goes off on who she is and who she is not. EG. ‘I am the woman who is not a good Hindu girl, a good Tamil girl, a good Kerala girl, a good Indian girl. I am not any of the categories I thought I was, I am not any of the categories I was moulded into being.’ My issue with this kind of statement is just that it feels like the narrator isn’t redefining the categories. What the fcuk is good? Why isn’t it not stated that these categories are arbitrary. Or is it supposed to be read between the lines? I just want to know what she thinks of herself instead of what society, her trash parents, her surely-going-to-hell-cause-Satan-will-reap-his-soul-personally ex-husband thinks of her.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way.

The people in this book are trash. Everyday the extent of humans’ ability to be trashier than before always catches me by surprise. I got so angry reading this book. I’ve annotated this book with so many expletives. That’s not a bad thing given the topic.

I just don’t get it. Not the book, but really just humans in general, how can you be so trash?

I truly from the bottom of my heart loved the part when she was getting her revenge game on. I loved how her writer-self took over and how she learned to play to her strengths. I loved her small acts of defiance. Life finds a way.

I mean read it because sometimes you have to know that the people who are truly trash are not strangers. They are all around you.

P.S. Hope that fcuker burns.

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