Insatiable revenge, blood shed, thrill and sufficient body scenes thrown in. That’s Ravi Shankar Etteth’s The Gold of their Regrets. Etteth has woven a gripping story revolving around the tonnes of gold that vanished in a plane crash during the World War II. The gold was intended for the Indian National Army, headed by Subhash Chandra Bose.
The protagonist is a physically well-trained monk, Tchin, out to avenge the death of his father. His father was in the plane that carried the gold, escorted by a German officer. The officer dies in the crash and this man was killed by three men — Dayal, Bharadwaj and Sheikh (actually Shekhar). Dayal’s daughter Anna and Shekhar’s son Jay Samorin are lovers. Anna is a senior police officer, whose husband was killed by terrorists in Kashmir. That killing turns her hunting for the terrorists and killing them. Bharadwaj has a daughter, a lesbian. But none of the children of the murderers know about the gold their fathers had looted.
The monk meticulously plans his way. He kills Bharadwaj first, then his daughter, then her lover. He offers a bargain to Anna. He tells her that he will deliver the body of the terrorist who killed her husband, in return he wanted Samorin out of the way. Tchin felt uneasy with Samorin.
The plot thickens here. The first part of the story is strewn with descriptions of body tales, horrible cult rituals, probably meant to hook the reader on to the narrative. But it could be a put off also because there is no direct relation between those scenes and the plot.
There is this intriguing Tulsi, who is an expert in qui, a Chinese martial art form that is practiced in Taoist and Buddhist monasteries. Jay Samorin is her classmate and equally adept in qui. The connection between Tchin, Tulsi, Samorin and Anna Khan makes the narration interesting.
No doubt an interesting read. The style is racy and peppy. It does rankle a bit that a monk, trained in the order to control his body and mind should come for revenge at the age of 60. But Tchin does not give the impression of a 60 year old. His moves and swiftness speak of a much much younger age. Minor oversights. A good read.
(Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd, 11, Community Centre. Panchshil Park, New Delhi-110 017)