Synopsis

MY TEMPRARY SON - AN orphan's journey.
A story like this – with so much of the writer in it – could easily slip into the mawkish and the maudlin but Tim maintains dignity in his prose while infusing it with a certain enchantment that comes from his clear and beautiful language. THE HINDU.
And two writers map different landscapes of loss and love with poignant and marvelously written memoirs: Joan Didion (Knopf) in The Year of Magical Thinking and Timeri Murari with his tale of losing an adopted child to another family in My Temporary Son (Penguin India). WORLD BOOKS
Timeri Murari tells a sensitive, moving story in prose that is spare and devoid of gimmick- and that is the book’s triumph. The emotion is powerful for being understated, the confusion of a 60-year-old faced with feelings he never thought he had is touching for being genuine. Lesser writers might have made a hash of this experience, the temptation to overwrite is strong. Murari’s style is at once concise and poignant. SAHARA TIMES
The book delights and saddens in turn. Murari and his wife provide a firm presence as the baby Bhima suffers and triumphs; there is pain in his surgery, his recovery, his first smile. His joy in discovering rain. This is a tremendously powerful book, and tragic, too, in its way. INDIAN EXPRESS
Believe me, I don’t feel ashamed to accept that I cried when I was reading the last paragraphs of the chapter ‘The Final Goodbye’ in Timeri N Murari’s non fiction ‘My Temporary Son’. The fact is that it is long since I was absolutely moved by a book. BOLOJI.COM
TRULY A LIFE-CHANGING EXPERIENCE.
Experiences are so often described as “life changing” that the adjective seems clichéd, almost value less. But Timeri N. Murari’s book MY TEMPORARY SON is about a true life-changing experience – the story of a child bringing magic into two lives and teaching lessons of resilience and love.
     “It is a warm story of a little boy, an orphan with a fairly serious health problem, who takes over the lives of an elderly, childless couple who believe they have seen, done and experienced pretty much everything.
     “Tim and Maureen Murari are well settled into their respective routines; he a writer of fixed, rather reclusive habits, and she working with various charitable institutions and voluntary organisations. On a trip to an orphanage, Maureen chances upon one-year-old Bhima, a baby with impossibly large, expressive eyes, lying in an iron cot banging his head against the bars to distract himself from the pain in the raw, red mass of flesh on his lower body. And she decides, as she has with other destitute children before, to raise the funds for his operation and help place him with adoptive parents abroad.
     “For the first few months, Tim is just an observer of sorts, listening and providing emotional support to Maureen as she gets into endless rounds of consultations and tests with doctors and raises funds to correct Bhima’s vesical exstrophy, a condition in which the bladder is outside the body.
     “Maureen brings Bhima home “for a few days” after surgery; to recuperate till he is strong enough to resist the infections he could catch in the orphanage. The few days turn into 11 months as the Murari’s wait for Bhima’s adoptive parents from Europe to plough through the paperwork demanded by the Indian adoption system.
     “And during that time, Bhima transforms Tim’s life, drawing him out, teaching him to be a father. Tim and Maureen do as much for Bhima – sitting through the night to comfort him when he experiences night terrors, being attuned to his every mood, being there for him – as he does for them.
     “Though his early development was delayed because of his medical condition, Bhima proves to be an exceptionally intelligent and resilient child, capturing Tim’s and Maureen’s heart with his simple faith, intense curiosity, mischievous ways and tin but tremendous spirit for survival.
     “Tim also uses the book to provide insights into Indian society; he brings up ideas of karma and destiny, and the traditions, superstitions and beliefs that are so much part of Indian life.
     “Child labour, exploitation and discrimination, bureaucracy, the education system, the almost-hopelessly convoluted adoption process…simple statements, made almost in passing, reveal social attitudes to all these and more.
     “Finally, the mammoth Indian bureaucracy begins to move and Tim and Maureen find themselves facing the idea of life without Bhima. There is heartbreak but they have to confront the reality of their age, Bhima’s future and what is best for him.
     “A story like this – with so much of the writer in it – could easily slip into the mawkish and the maudlin but Tim maintains dignity in his prose while infusing it with a certain enchantment that comes from his clear and beautiful language.
     “It is also without explicitly being so, a story of many in India and around the world who find it in themselves to open up their lives and hearts to abandoned children and are willing to move systems across continents in their willingness to love. THE HINDU.
Timeri Murari tells a sensitive, moving story in prose that is spare and devoid of gimmick- and that is the book’s triumph. The emotion is powerful for being understated, the confusion of a 60-year-old faced with feelings he never thought he had is touching for being genuine. Lesser writers might have made a hash of this experience, the temptation to overwrite is strong. Murari’s style is at once concise and poignant.
     “The story is simple enough. An abandoned child, later named Bhima, is taken from an orphanage for a rare surgery for which Murari’s wife Maureen raises the funds. The surgery is successful, but rather than send the boy back to the orphanage. The Murari’s decide to let him recoup Hl their Chennai home. Bhima is not the first 'house guest' (as Murari refers to him initially). But he is special for some reason, and the manner in which the little one shines a torch on Timeri's soul and light up emotions hiding there is the essence of the book. "He is your temporary son," says one of their friends and it is then' hat Timeri’s unspoken wish is first articulated.
     “Even for Maureen who is in touch with deep emotions within herself the change brought about by Bhima is startling. 'Parenthood' for the year that Bhima is with them brings with it all the doubts and certainties that first-time parents less than half their age live with. The Muraris cannot adopt Bhima because of the age difference (the law states that the parents cannot be more than 45 years older than the child).
     “The story is as much Bhima's as it is the author's. Both while showering the child with
love as well as when holding back in the cause of a greater love, the Muraris show themselves to be a rare mix of the romantic and the practical. They know that Bhima will soon have to leave, and that his adoptive parents from Europe are only waiting for the paper work to be cleared. So right from the start, Bhima is trained to call the Muraris 'aunty' and 'uncle' so there is no confusion with the 'papa' and 'mamma' to come. Love is as much about giving as about holding back. Closure is important, but it is not easy.
     “Certainly not after the kind of impact the child makes on their lives. As Murari writes, "I hate being interrupted while I am working. I try never to answer the phone and I ignore the doorbell. At one time I would have snapped and snarled at anybody who disturbed me. Now Bhima was teaching me things that work, no matter how important cannot take precedence over a child's demands and needs. I was acquiring a new skill - that of being a. father. I was not used to it, to constant repetition and to just as constantly admiring him as he practiced new skills time and again and again. But I realized that every moment I spent with Bhima is what Americans called 'quality time' his confidence grew as he pushed at the boundaries of love surrounding him."
     “We speak often about the loss of innocence that comes with age. Children help us reconnect with our lost selves. But here was a successful writer regaining innocence. The thought that such a thing is possible is charming in itself; the idea that age is no bar
There are too lovely vignettes of Chennai, of the memories that Timeri has carried with him of his own childhood: of the work done by Maureen and others like her who do good by stealth. But it is the sheer intensity of ultimately hopeless unconditional love that keeps a simple story from flagging or moving into areas that are of no relevance
Murari has long talks with his temporary son, explaining everything around him,
     “It does not matter that the child does not understand; the exercise is new to the temporary father, and he begins to understand himself and his childhood better is doubly comforting.
     “"In this long belated 'fatherhood'," writes Murari, "I wanted Bhima to experience
everything I had as a child growing up in Madras, in this house. I wanted to recreate
my childhood through him, as all fathers do, I assumed. It was important for him to remember something more about India, than the four walls of the orphanage that had contained him for so long.”
     “The irony is that while the 'father' was doing everything in his power to erase from the child's mind the bad memories and replace them with good ones and thus prepare him for a life beyond the orphanage and Chennai, he himself was finding it increasingly difficult to distance himself from the 'son' although he knew that would be necessary. In the end all ironies and contradictions dissolve in the ocean of love. Timeri Murari has written about a dozen - works of fiction including the recently reissued Taj, about half a dozen plays and a couple of films. His writings have been marked by a detachment and attention to detail that only the finest practitioners of the craft can bring to their work. In taking the road from a professional detachment to an increasingly inevitable attachment he brings to the surface in this book an aspect of autobiographical writing that is both personal and universal
     “At the end of it, the author who has lived most of his life abroad is told that this is India and that with some sensible bribery could have adopted Bhima ‘legally’. The reader is left to wonder what might have been…SAHARA TIME.
Anyone with a child in their life, anyone who has ever longed for a child and anyone, but anyone, who has ever been at the receiving end of a child’s love will find something in this book. For even the most cynical will not be moved by Timeri Murari’s true account of caring for an orphaned and disabled child. Murari’s life took on a new meaning when baby Bhima entered his life. At first it was a nameless pair of deeply troubled eyes, a two-dimensional image from a photograph that was taken in the orphanage to which his parents, also nameless, had surrendered the child. A child who left a profound impression in the precious 11 months during which Murari became his father
     “My Temporary Son is a thoroughly honest, self-scrutinizing and, in places, brutal narrative. It documents young Bhima’s entrance into a hard world, and the inordinate medical procedures he undergoes, all the while following the author’s growing emotional attachment to his ‘son’.
     “Murari’s great skill lies in the way he encapsulates his love for baby Bhima, not by wild, gut-wrenching emotive adjectives, but by a pensive and almost introspective examination of his emotions, creating g an altogether different but equally painful type of tragedy.
     “The author does not paint himself or his country as perfect. Indeed, it illustrates the wretched bureaucracy that that forms the basis of the adoptive process in India as both a curse and a blessing. The circumstances which led Bhima into the arms of Murari and his wife were far from easy and the author provided no palliative in his portrayal of events.
     “The book delights and saddens in turn. Murari and his wife provide a firm presence as the baby Bhima suffers and triumphs; there is pain in his surgery, his recovery, his first smile. His joy in discovering rain. This is a tremendously powerful book, and tragic, too, in its way. INDIAN EXPRESS
BELIEVE me, I don’t feel ashamed to accept that I cried when I was reading the last paragraphs of the chapter      ‘The Final Goodbye’ in Timeri N Murari’s non fiction ‘My Temporary Son’. The fact is that it is long since I was absolutely moved by a book; the books have been interesting, irresistible and engaging. But this was one book, which does not belong to any of the above category but still made me read.
     “‘My Temporary Son’ is a real life narration of an aged couple Tim and Maureen whose life suddenly takes a change with the temporary entry of an abnormally sick, fragile orphan kid who had to undergo series of serious surgeries for surviving. Anachronously, the boy is named Bhima. The baby boy was born with his bladder outside the abdomen and abandoned by its natural parents in an orphanage.
     “Tim’s wife Maureen is a social worker who helps foreigners in adoption and its systems. So it was not uncommon for the couple to provide transit accommodation for the kids in their ancestral palatial home at Chennai. Bhima’s entry is no different but a little longer because of these medical interferences. Tim who is generally indifferent to such short diversions was totally drawn into the vortex of love and affection towards Bhima by a chain of incidents. The childless ageing couple suddenly realizes that their love for this boy was overwhelming because of this baby’s pranks and quiet resilience to live notwithstanding the oddities of fate during his stay in their home for the period of eleven months. When the time comes for them to part with Bhima, there was a cauldron of emotions. How Tim and Maureen overcome because of their intense love for the kid forms the end of this non fiction.
     “‘My Temporary Son’ is in one way a linear narrative with tangential paths. The book is not something, which one could complete just in one sitting. Murari’s writing is just reliving of his whole period of life from the birth of Bhima, the discard, entry, enjoyment of his growth and exit. He takes us with him in his journey with episodes strewn in between both relevant and irrelevant. They include Murari’s childhood, growing, preferences, love affairs, likes and dislikes, opinions, his family members, feuds, friendship, happiness, frustrations and what not.
     “The book also describes the most convoluted procedure of adoption and the exasperating rules and regulations prevailing in India. It projects the shocking state of the orphaned children in our country, apathy of the officials, indifference of the public, concern on the ever enlarging population, above all the deplorable conditions of living in India irrespective of one’s financial background. The book may be a useful guide for those who want to adopt a kid from India (will anyone after reading this book?) with the model legal documents and procedures as Appendices.
     “Timeri Murari’s language alternates between simple and complex. This is probably because of its spontaneity. The emotions are brutally honest and painfully straightforward. The characters Tim, Maureen, Bhima, Sarala, Shaila, the lovable adopting couple Bettina and Karl and their family communicate and interact with the reader in flesh and blood through the pages of the book. One cannot but empathize them very honestly.
“Tim writes ‘… that love had more substance and sustenance than food and drink; it was the buoy that had kept them afloat in the freezing waters of old age’.
     “I am sure after reading the book one will agree that this statement holds good at any age of a true human. BOLOJI.COM
AUTHOR, journalist, playwright and filmmaker Timeri N. Murari has played a lot of roles in life. But perhaps one that he did not bargain for was the cause of a lot of heartache. In a cathartic way, resulting in his latest book, MY TEMPORARY SON, as much about adoption as about learning to be a father.
     “Chennai-based Murari and his wife Maureen have assisted in a number of adoptions over the years from the city, while remaining childless themselves. And before going to their adoptive homes, many of these kids have also stayed in their home for a while. So when Bhima came along, Murari had no idea that things would be different this time.
     “Bhima, born to a rural family in Pondicherry, had vesical exstrophy, or was born with his bladder outside the body. Abandoned by his parents, he was in an orphanage when Maureen spotted him and began the process to get him operated to relive him of his constant misery. And after the operation, she brought him home to recuperate before he went to his adoptive home.
     “And it was while he was staying there that Bhima made such a place in Murari’s heart that he was tempted to adopt Bhima himself. Except for that he was 60 years older than Bhima, and adoption would create many complications, both for him and for Bhima in future. But that is what the head said.
     “The heart was on a different track. “I had to confront myself,” says Murari. “A child changes your life, I learnt about being a father, it was almost slammed into me. Bhima, had ‘special’ needs in one respect, but was extremely intelligent,” he reminisces, eyes looking somewhere into the past. “Bhima brought home the meaning of the word, ‘the child is the father of the man’. For at one level I was learning to be a father. I was literally learning.”
     “And there were many aspects that became clearer to the author, the father, the individual. Children are low priority in an adult controlled world. Adoption in India is an extremely strenuous process, and despite people wanting to adopt from India, many do not do as bureaucratic hurdles are too long.
     “Bhima was adopted by a couple from a European country, by which time he was already two years old. When they adopted their second child, they did so from South Africa, and despite having to furnish similar documents and guarantees, they completed the process in three months. “There is an urgent need to speed up the process of adoption in India,” says Murari. By the time the formalities are completed, the child has already undergone much pain and neglect, and has become institutionalised. He has had no relationship, and this has a profound impact. “About 150-200 children are adopted from India, mostly children with special needs. Indians prefer to adopt health children, as a special-needs child comes along with additional medical burdens. However, many prefer adopting from countries like Korea, or those in Latin America as the process is much faster,” he laments.
     “Bhima has found a home, and has the luxury of having adoptive parents who love him, and people like Murari who desperately wanted to make him a permanent part of their lives.
“Most orphans have to contend with the opposite conditions, something Murari has poignantly, transparently captured in MY TEMPORARY SON, which you will find difficult to read without a lump developing in your throat. BUSINESS TIMES
IF you are the one to cry with an author as you read his book, this one is definitely recommended. A heart rendering tale of how the author became a father for the first time at 60 when an orphan gate crashed into his life and changed it forever.
     “A contented elderly man, Tim's life transformed when a thin and sickly child Bhima entered his home thanks to his wife Maureen. Since his wife is involved in social work, he dismisses this new entry as a temporary arrangement. But the truth is far from it. Bhima demands attention and the author learns to be a father and enjoys it. As you start enjoying their relationship, the truth jolts you as you come to know that the author and his wife cannot adopt Bhima's as they are too old. He is given up for adoption and meeting the adoptive parents is anything but painful. The gradual handover of Bhima and his adjustment to his new parents is heartbreaking and you identify with the author's pain. Not only is it an inspiring book that makes you believe in selfless service, it is also a great way to understand the complicated adoption process in India. The eyes on the cover page of the book tell a tale of its own and the author takes you along on his journey of suddenly discovering fatherhood and losing it immediately too.
“The author uses simple yet effective words to convey the emotional turmoil that he and his wife undergo in eleven months. His faith and belief in Bhima and his feeling of incompetence when he doesn't understand how to handle a child seems to be true for every new father. The end of the book is particularly heart wrenching. The impossibility of the situation frustrates you and the author and his wife's commitment to Bhima's welfare is baffling. He ends the book saying 'Bhima was meant to have an enchanted life and for us, it was a closure of sorts. We knew there would never be total closure, not until we die, or love does.' Words that speak beyond their meaning. AFTERNOON, BOMBAY.
NOT everyone has it in him to adopt a child and treat the child as one would one’s own. But people capable of such love do exist and make up for a miniscule fraction of the world. Timeri Murari’s personal experiences bring these peripheral people in focus.
     “Up until such time that Bhima, an abandoned baby with vesical extrophy (a state when the bladder is outside the body) came into Tim’s life, his world was systematic with little room for deep emotions. Tim has been a journalist with the Guardian and has written novels, screenplays and stage plays. His film, The Square Circle, made it to Time’s list of 10 best films. With so much happening in his life, Tim could not have been bothered by his wife’s efforts to bring home Bhima for better care after a corrective surgery.
     “Tim wasn’t new to having babies in his huge ancestral Madras home as his wife, associated with the Overseas Women’s Club, would often get orphanage babies, signed up for adoption, to their house before they would leave for their respective homes abroad.
“In Bhima’s case, it turned out to be a bonding he wasn’t quite ready for. Tim says: "I was a contented elderly man, not looking to be immersed in any emotional cauldrons...and then, unexpectedly, Bhima came along, skewing all my calculations."
     “Used to constant pain and alien to a tender touch, Bhima gradually learns to love and trust Tim and Maureen. His sparing but gentle kisses change Tim who, perhaps for the first time in his life, regrets being at the wrong side of 60. His longing to adopt Bhima leaves him restless and in the 11 months that the little boy is with them, Tim fears his home and life would never be the same. Bhima’s impending adoption by a European couple looms large and with it grows his desperation to keep his “temporary son”.
     “Childless himself, Tim bares his heart and one knows why he chose to write this novel— to let his feelings flow unhindered; they needed expression. Tim reaches the pinnacle of pain on his parting with Bhima. How he tries to adapt to the vacuum and his subsequent visit to Bhima’s new home makes up for the latter part of the book.
     “That it is an exceptional and an emotional book goes without saying, but what it does to you is worse. It leaves you with a feeling of being an inferior human. There are people, including foreigners, who eagerly adopt babies with deformities or those with special needs and give them utmost love and a comfortable home. Our own insufficiencies show up sharper in contrast. TRIBUNE.
LETTERS
Dear Mr. Murari,
i would like to thank you so much for writing my temporary son, for me it is the best book i have ever read
i am Austrian and i have bought a copy in Sri Lanka on my holiday there,
at the moment i am living in Abu Dhabi and i am looking forward to buy more of your work when i am going to London next month to visit my (real) son.
Thank you!
Best regards
Marie Vrba
P. S. I admire your wife Maureen for what she is doing
Hello,

Just wanted to commend you on your beautiful book "My Temporary Son", I am on pg.153 and am enjoying every word of it. Not only is the story of Bhima so heartwarming, but I also find I am enjoying reading about Madras, a city I had the good fortune to live in, in the early '90's.

I'm very glad I came across your book, I am going to pass the word around,

Regards,
Angelique of Lotus Reads
Hey Tim

I cant stop to be amazed with your book 'My Temporary Son.' There are no words to express how i feel yet i will try. Like everyone else I would appreciate your commendable act of looking after Bhima because i know it isnt easy. and i understand the attachment you feel for him.

I am in touch with a home in Asangaon in Mumbai wherein children with AIDS are nursed. One such baby there was eight month old Joy who was found on the railway tracks when he was just three months old. He was brought to the home and was named Joy because he had an enchanting smile. When i met him I could not believe someone would actually desert him. He tested positive for HIV but was so cheerful and unaware of his condition. I heard later that he had passed away in the company of all the staff and other children. I cannot forget his smile. God bless him. Bhima reminded me of Joy and I am glad that Bhima found you.

Kudos to Maureen who is so compassionate and loving. I would really want to meet the both of you if and when you come to Mumbai. I am a Reporter with the Afternoon newspaper in Mumbai and generally review books because i love reading them. My Temporary Son moved me to tears and I am glad you wrote it.

Take very good care of yourselves and keep writing!

Lots of warm regards
Tina Aranha
sir

I have read your books. first I read a book on Taj and I liked it very
much. your style is really heart touching. I like the character of Murty and
silently suffering of Issa.

another book "My temporary son" brought tears to my eyes. how minutely you
have observed the toddler's behaviour. the backbone of this book is Maureen
who gave this lucky or unlucky child so much tender and abandunce love.


is it a true story? the description of Chennai and Pondechari is really
interesting to a person like me who is not a chennaite. my daughter stays in
thiruvanmiyur very close to cheshire home. I have come to visit her and
spend time with my two little grandchildren. i am going back to Mhow near
Indore in MP where we have settled down. my husband has retired from the
army. he is also very fond of reading. we would love to meet you and
Maureen in a very close future. please let us know.


looking forward to read some more books written by you.

Prabha Joshi
Dear Tim
Thank you so much for sparing us a precious copy of the book, and also for the inscription ( which I hadn't seen when you handed it over!) I read the book from cover to cover when I was in Wales, and it was an immensely rewarding experience. Being able to use the wonderful photograph you gave us of you and Maureen with Anhil as a bookmark brought a unique and special addition to the experience. I had not realised the degree of autobiography - and I must say you have chosen an extraordinarily vivid context for your thoughts, reminiscences about your life before and with Maureen, and comments and insights into the bewilderments of India.
You and Maureen have poured so much compassion and love into the special kind of adoption you have been undertaking over the past years. I do hope that your extended family network will remain strong and supportive in the years to come. It's the very least you deserve. Everything you tell me about your'children' will take on a new significance and dimension now that I have read the book. I hope it does get published outside India, but whether it does or doesn't I for one am very glad you wrote it, and I hope you and Maureen are too.
Michael Houldey
Hi Tim
Just a note to say Thank you for a copy of your book, especially that it was signed.
I read it from cover to cover and actually finished it a while ago. I could not put it down. You have had me crying and laughing out loud on the tube to and from work. Not sure what the other passengers thought!
It was fantastic, moving and so well written. I am just sorry I havn't thanked you earlier. We have had a busy few weeks as Rich had a major University assignment to hand in. Thankfully it is finished now! Now we can get on and concentrate on the wedding.
Thank you so much again. Rich is reading it next, now he has a break from University books.
Love
Georgina (Herridge)
Dear Mr. Murari,

I read My Temporary Son: An Orphan's Journey and found it's later pages gut
wrenching, heart rendering and physically discombobulating as I acutely felt
that partings aren't always such sweet sorrow. Thank you for writing this
book and sharing your experiences.

I came upon the book by accident in mall's bookstore early this month in
Bombay where I grew up, but have lived in the NYC area for over 28 years. I
bought it since I'd attended an Indian adopted child's baby shower in NYC.
Very recently I've been the language interpreter during it's speech therapy
evaluation for early intervention.
Ravi Bhasin
Dear Timeri Murari,
After eagerly anticipating your book since pre-publication, my cousin finally brought it back from India and I finished reading it in one go. I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your book. I was born in the U.S. but my parents are from Madras, so I enjoyed learning more about my India. Also, I have adopted two daughters from Pune. I have little information about their beginnings, and your book helped me imagine how much they were also loved by those who cared for them. Bhima/Anhil is so lucky to have so much of his past preserved in you and your wife. Thank you for writing such a beautiful book.
Sincerely,
Usha Rengachary
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Dear Mr.Murari,
Just completed reading your book,"My
Temporary Son"-- one of the most moving books,
capturing in print those fine and elusive feelings so
palpably.As a person who has lost a beloved pet just 4
months ago and who has had an almost similar
experience as yours with Bima, several years ago, I
could empathise with your book. Several Years ago, my
brother and sister-in -law sent their 6 week old son
to India from the US as they were finding it difficult
to bring up a baby along with all their commitments.
My parents and I (aged 16then) brought him up with the
greatest love and affection. But all the time we knew
that one day he would go away--which he did when his
Parents sent for him just a few days before his 2nd
birthday. The pain that we experienced at the very
same Madras airport was very similar to your own in
the book. Now I'm almost 50 and my nephew, whom i've
not seen since the last 15 years is almost 34 years
old. The tragedy is that he does not remember us at
all.
These experiences of mine I thought were
obliterated from my mind for good until your book
reopened them...that is great literature I
guess...hence this mail...just to let you know that i
enjoyed your book.

with regards,
Padmaja Ashok