Like I said earlier in one of my posts that sometimes it is not us who is picking up a book but at times a book too can pick you up. And when you read it, love it, finish it, sit back and think about it, you realize that you were destined to read it for so many reasons. This book invoked so many of these feelings in me as it just came to me or shall I say the Author somehow found me and sent me this book to be read and reviewed. As usual, I had no idea of neither the Writer nor the book so what and how it clicked? The Author happens to be from one of my all time favorite city “Gangtok”, now that is one piece of heaven that I’ve decided to settle down as and when the right time comes and one of my besties is from the city and is still there, who’ve been calling me for a visit for ages now. Co-incidentally Author’s and my own ancestors belonged to Nepal. Not going too much back in time, my Grandpa and Grandma were from Nepal as well as my Dad who was actually born in Kathmandu before they migrated to India around mid 40’s. Until my granny was alive, we used to follow all the traditional Nepali customs, functions, festivals and what not, even for communication the official language of our household back then was Nepali :). I still do remember so many words and sentences that I try to impress a Nepali as and when I come across one. This book had so many of those terms, rituals, festivities beliefs and specially the words that he used in the narrative were simply too good and put a big huge smile on my face throughout.
The book starts with a shocking accident and breaking of the sad news to the two main characters who have got nothing to do with each other and are miles apart. But as the story goes in flashback some thirty odd years to the very start, develops and covers the three decades of their lives full of Love, Loss, Pain, Betrayal, Philosophy, of-course some Hope and so many other emotions that I got totally engrossed in it. Soham is recovering from the loss of his much loved (and hated) elder brother “Dada”, who he loved as well as was jealous too. How his dad hates his elder brother who is good for nothing as per him and curses him big time, it felt so real (even in fiction) that it reminded me of our own time when it wasn’t too uncommon for a parent to tell a kid that they should have dumped them right after the birth and shouldn’t have taken any pains of raising them. And so is the life of Fiona on the other hand, abusive childhood, drunkard of a father who leaves his loving wife and a very young kid to survive on their own with nothing to look forward to. How they survive, struggle and yet try to live a dignified life is the rest of the story and twists. The majority of the story takes shape in Gangtok and that is why the Nepali connection too as there are so many people who speak in that language. Beautiful scenic city of Gangtok, its cruel weather which looks so good from outside specially to us who crave to be there and how the locals survive and live with it is so well told, amalgamated in the story which adds up some shock value too to it.
The way Soham’s life and character is carved out is so damn real life like. A typical life in a metro where we slog nine to five and have no social life to look forward to. Our parents did the same too to make our lives beautiful and at the end of the day there is no one to enjoy the fruits of their hard-work or even ours. Whereas Fiona’s life is totally different than his, a small town girl with no big dreams, just to stand on her own two feet and live a normal life, forget about the painful past, look forward to the better future. Born in a Hindu family, how religion comes to her mother’s rescue in trying times is a heart touching story.
Not comparing it with Danielle Steel’s “The Long Road Home” but it so much reminded me of the story of Gabriella, as the pain in her life never comes to an end, it made me so much emotional and my heart cried out for her big time. Exactly like that here too, Fiona’s troubles seems like never going to come to an end but I hoped they would eventually. I loved the way Pankaj has carved out his characters, exceptionally well and kept me on toes with both of them, their hobbies, their lives, thinking, achievements, regrets, differences with parents and all that. It is so real and written so efficiently well and in great details not hurrying the narrative at all. Since this isn’t a thriller or a suspense saga it takes its own sweet time to take story ahead. Some people may find it slow or may be lengthy too but I totally loved it. Even the philosophy and meaning behind the story and the way he told it through the twists and turns in the lives of his two main characters was mind-blowing. The music references, cricket connection, songs and bands, books and what not is so terrifically submerged that it always felt like as if I knew this guy personally. Or that the main characters could have been so easily any of us telling their own story.
It is a must must read for all and specially for those who enjoy and cherish a meaningful book with so much positive philosophy of life and times. Plus an effort like this should be praised and recommended big time, in today’s time when so much of trashy literature is making up the bestseller list whereas a deserving story(s) get no fame.
PS: Today I actually messaged the Author and asked him his age too :). Going by his Facebook profile I just couldn’t believe that such a young man follows such beautiful philosophy. He is definitely going places and I would keep following him now for his upcoming works for more enlightenment.