This novel is a semi-autobiographical, semi-fiction narrating a major period in the life of Ashok, a sensitive, impoverished man. Through incidents and anecdotes, Ashok’s journey through life and across the continents comes out vividly, where small and significant events bring out the reality of life. For instance, there is an incident about his schoolmate Divakar whose brother Sudhakar is not normal. As he would never cry, Sudhakar is presumed to be very tough by his brother Divakar’s friends. One day, Sudhakar is pushed hard by a boy who wants to find out if he is tough or not. Sudhakar falls violently but there is no facial expression on him. It is perhaps the poor response from the brain that toughens him thus preventing him from showing his anger. One day the author finds that Sudhakar has died because of pneumonia. His brother Divakar’s sorrow makes the author so depressed that he moves away from the scene as he finds himself unable to do anything to help.
In another incident, in his Chinakuri village, on a visit to a field, he sees a charak — a gadget with two horizontal bars, perpendicular to each other, fixed at the top of a 15-foot-high vertical pole. Four vertical hooks with sharp ends are suspended from the end of each horizontal bar. The backs of four worshippers are seen pierced with hooks from which they were hung horizontally. The charak rotates fast as the villagers chant “Salutations to Lord Mahadeva.”
The author finds employment as a tutor for a higher secondary girl student. She joins college and the author gets attracted to her. Both express their feelings to each other. Meanwhile he leaves for the University of Pittsburg, where he receives a letter from the girl Sudesha saying that she has found Udayan during the course of her studies at the medical college and plans to marry him. The author is shocked and refuses to read any more letters he receives from her because “the deep wound remained like a scar in my heart.”
Finally he finds a friend Maya whom he decides to marry.
This is a novel which begins with lots of promise but after some time loses track and momentum to end like a damp squib.
(Genesis Publishing, 23 Lal Bhahadur Shastri Marg, Allahabad-211001.)