“The Funny boy” – A Homosexual Novel of searching identity

“For me, growing up, I felt like there was something fatally and tragically flawed in my nature and that it was my duty to try to avoid falling for that vice”.

– Shyam Selvadurai

Certainly, we all as a human, face some sort of battle within ourselves, might be towards our identity or maybe our existence. The worst crisis any human can face is the crisis within him/herself. It is one of the dangerous crises any person goes through, and this is what the author Shyam Selvadurai had gone in his own life which he portrayed in the novel “Funny Boy” through the main protagonist “Arjun” aka “Arjie”.

The Funny Boy – A Background :

The novel evidently sets in the early 1980’s at the consequent of Sri Lankan civil war, which showcase us the disputes and riots of Tamil – Sinhalese Historical enmity towards each other. The novel is divided into 6 chapters, in which every chapter has its own uniqueness which makes the novel more explicit.

The 1st chapter, “Pigs can’t fly”, begins with the Naïve life of the main character Arjie and his reminiscence of his childhood days, where he presents his own baffled thoughts of his own existence of, he being “Different” from other boys of his age. He was anxious and felt that his interests in playing with dolls and girls is a taboo for society whereas playing cricket will make him an ideal boy in the society.

“Life is full of stupid things and sometimes we just have to do them”, Arjie’s Amma says this to him when he refused to play with boys and instead, he likes to wear saree and play, “bride- bride” with his female cousins.

 This shows us how this chapter portray us that our society is prejudice towards the gender norms in which all of us are distributed. In one of the incidents when the relatives of Arjie saw him wearing a saree , made him a center of laughter and mocked him by saying him “ Funny”, through which the author tried to showcase us that the third Gender in our society is considered as unethical or as a clown which is irrelevant to the society, namely the title of the chapter “Pigs can’t fly’’, presents us how people in our society don’t accept the people who belongs to the third gender as according to them, pigs represents the people who are transgenders or gay like Arjie are breaking the norms of the culture.

Any war, riots or a sense of violence happens within the human minds, and politically, language and cultures drift us apart sometimes to establish a war”, this quote is well explained in the second chapter “Radha Aunty”, where this chapter explains us how casteism becomes a hurdle, when people fall in love.

They say that “If two people love each other, the rest is unimportant.”

“No, it isn’t. Ultimately, you must live in the real world.

And without your family you are nothing.”

The Funny Boy

By this quote, the author explains us the tragic love story of Radha Aunty and Anil Uncle who wanted to get marry, but the enmity and disbelief in both the communities of Tamil and Sinhalese made them apart! Indeed, this tragedy is obvious to show us the situation of the Sri Lankan civil war and the rules in which people were abused to be in. Incidents of Radha Aunty where she was brutally attacked by 2 Sinhalese people show us how threatening Humans were demons for each other.

“See no evil, hear no evil”, is the chapter 3 where show us one more Tragic incident happened with “Daryl Uncle”, we can say that the novel has a theme of failed love relationships, casteism, hatred, war, and disputes, as this chapter encloses about the incident of how Daryl uncle died or rather got murdered. It portrays us how violent was the time in columbo when the Journalist like Daryl uncle was abused and murdered.

In chapter 4, “Small Choices”, we get to know about Arjie’s feelings for the male character Jegan, who came to work in Appa’s hotel. This is the chapter where Arjie started to know about his identity but hide from the outer world as it was against the norms, which Arjie felt his feelings for men is Immorality. This chapter also counts about Anti- Tamilians and how these community was making a life miserable for the innocent people of Columbo.

Often, we know who we are, what is our identity, but because of the taboo inflicted in the society, we escape from our originality and behave as how the society wants to picture us. This is what Arjie was doing to be a normal ideal boy, but somewhere he was an abnormal boy (according to him) because of his gay feelings for the character Shehan in chapter 5, “The Best School of All “show us. When Arjie fell in love with Shehan, his perception for life and his ideology of his identity changed when he met shehan and shehan removed all the perplexed thoughts floating in the minds of Arjie. Shehan made Arjie realized that “We should ultimately know who we are! We should not hide identity from ourselves”. This is what made Arjie realize that he should respect himself and his identity. This was the chapter where he was not afraid of who he was and his sexual desires for Shehan was totally legit. In this chapter, Arjie was proud to be himself as a gay and his love for Shehan was compatible.

In “Riot Journal: An Epilogue’’ is the last chapter where Arjie wrote a journal on the effects and incidents of riots and its impact how ruined his life and lost his parents. The books end in a dismal and with a sense of alienation of Arjie and the tragic feelings inculcated and made him hollow.

Funny Boy – A Novel to explore one’s own identity !

Still unending war a human faces within himself/ Herself when it is about recognizing one’s own identity. We Humans have a psychology of hiding our real personality infront of other humans which is basically due to the age old cliché ideology of “Acceptance in the society”, due to which people hide there real self.

As Humans, we live in society and communities in which we have an urge of desire that we need love, cherishment, respect and acceptance in return, thus when we don’t get it we realize we are different from others, which ultimately makes us feel that we are an outcast from our society. so, as a part of community we behave as the world wants us to behave.

Whereas, “The Funny Boy” is the best novel of all which provides you that particular kind of Catharsis if you not aware of yourself!

So, a personal recommendation to the Bibliophile out there , Go check this Book which is not only a homosexual novel, but a novel which is Heartening and will open your insights to understand your real self.