By Manju Gupta
The Fallen Leaves (A Love Story) by Saibal Gupta, Concept Publishing Company, 156 pp, Rs 250.00
Written by a doctor of medicine, this first novel of his in English, is the story of two great friends in their early lives who meet by chance after a long time in the autumn of their lives. The writer comes across Amol, the protagonist of the novel after a gap of more than three decades. He had known Amol as a young man, a youngster just out of college and soon both become ?very intimate? within a short time. ?To me he seemed to be one of the very best products of the Indian society. He was intelligent, erudite with a love for books, athlete of some distinction, a good student and along with that, probably because of his Hindu upbringing, he had a sort of detachment and self-effacement that made him endearing.?
Once the writer jokingly told Amol that he would make a very good monk, at which Amol became very serious and replied that ?it will not be a bad alternative and has a lot of merit to be considered?.
The memory of that intimacy when they talked about life and the world on the threshold of their lives, when they scarcely had any experience of either, draws them together to meet and spend an evening. The story is set in India of the 1960s. Though both are completely Indian, their lives turn out to be extremely different. Amol leads a dynamic life travelling and working round the world in a very successful career. His friend has a quiet life enriched by intellect and introspection by analysing those experiences. Now, as he relates them in conversation form to an intent listener, he turns inwards. In the process both the writer and the friend Amol reinvent their intellectual rapport and intimacy they shared in their early lives and progressively discuss the deeper issues of life. Amol tells the writer that divinity appealed to him as a non-dual, formless divinity of monoism. ?This was natural because of my dedication to the world of science and reason?Above all, I had a great hankering for love, to love and be loved. That is my culture or dharma that is a much better world and I am born to it. My freedom has to be in relation to my dharma. This I did not understand and considered myself a failure. And suffering through life, a form came to me?The whole world of dualism opened up before me, of sight and sound and love and joy. It is glorious compared to the dry asceticism of non-dualism. It is love that does not bind but sets you free. Human love creates bondages but divine love sets you free?You have to sacrifice your ?I? and ?mine?. But you need somebody to sacrifice it to. Here comes in your personal God. You sacrifice them to Allah, or Jesus or Krishna. Then you live as a free man.? He talks of invaders who came to India to destroy temples and behead images but they failed to eradicate the Hindus because ?God does not reside in the temples and images, but in the heart of every human being whether Hindu or not?. He very philosophically concludes that ?religious wars and quarrels are absolutely stupid because the divinity is within every human being, only the forms vary from the subatomic particles to the temples, mosques and cathedrals.?
This is a book that propounds a very powerful philosophy of forsaking everything and finding happiness in thinking about divinity and trying to be divine.
(Concept Publishing Company, A/15 & 16 Commercial Block, Mohan Garden, New Delhi-110059.)