Gemini by Ahmed Essop
In Gemini by Ahmed Essop we have the theme of discontent, rebellion, paralysis, struggle, letting go, pride, love and failure. Narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator the reader realizes from the beginning of the story that Essop may be exploring the theme of discontent. Siva does not like working for others in the hotel. As a waiter he is presented with the demands of other people. Something that Essop has difficulty dealing with. If anything there is a sense of rebellion within Siva. He as a youth rebelled against society and the reader feels as though Siva would like to rebel against the mainstream and be something else. Something that he deems nobler, perhaps to be a doctor. However because of his situation (lone parent struggling) there will be no change for Siva. He is as paralyzed as he would like to be on the train (inertia), nothing will change for him. Which may be significant as Siva has put a lot of his hopes for the future on his son’s progress in the Standard Six examinations. Though as the reader finds out it look like Krishna is going to follow in his father’s footsteps. He is after all beginning to experiment, as Siva did, with smoking.
This may be significant as the sense of paralysis that will greet Siva is not yet known to him. True he fears the worse when it comes to the fire but he is unaware that Krishna is the one who started the fire by lighting a cigarette. Mrs Rudy does not inform him of this. This too may be significant as Mrs Rudy may very well be aware of how much Siva struggles. He dislikes his job, has high hopes for Krishna to attend university and he is a lone parent following the death of his wife, Krishna’s mother. In reality life is difficult for Siva and unrealistically he has put all his hopes in the one basket (Krishna). He is devoted to Krishna but Krishna is at a vital age. The same place that Siva was once was. Siva’s teachers abandoned him when he failed his Standard Six examinations. Something which remains with Siva. He is unable to let go of the past. A point that is symbolically noticeable by the fact that Siva has saved his Standard Six examination report with other important documents. Despite the passing of time Siva is unable to let go of the past.
There may be other symbolism in the story which might be important. The fact that Siva cannot fall asleep mirrors in many ways how his life with Krishna will go. He will need to keep an open eye on Krishna following his decline into smoking and his own failure in the Standard Six examination. If anything Krishna is bound to live his life as discontent as Siva is. There will be no opportunities for university or college for Krishna. He is already on a downward spiral. The fact that Siva goes into a state of shock and thinks that Krishna may be dead is also symbolic as it serves to highlight to the reader just how life-changing the death of Krishna would be for Siva. After all Krishna is all that Siva has in life and as a memory of his wife. Who is only briefly mentioned in the story? This lack of focus on Siva’s wife could suggest that Siva has not fully dealt with the death of his wife. He has perhaps not accepted her death. Though it is noticeable he has a perfume bottle in his bedroom that was left by a hotel guest. So there may have been some movement on Siva’s part. As long as he has Krishna, who he lives vicariously through, he is happy and proud.
The end of the story is interesting as Siva realizes that Krishna has failed his Stand Six examination. The reality being that son and father are to live similar and wasted lives. Siva will remain paralyzed with no chance of change and Krishna at thirteen has begun to throw his life away at a critical point in his life. The only redeeming factor is the love that Siva shows by reaching out to touch Krishna, who is sleeping. As the story ends the reader hopes that Siva will be able to advise Krishna of the right direction to follow and not to follow in Siva’s footsteps. However the fate that faced Siva and his abandonment by his teachers is the same fate that awaits Krishna. Who interestingly the reader never knows how he feels about his mother’s death. Neither the narrator nor Siva reflect on that issue.