THIS is a novel about the adventures of a young boy who is born to parents who had two daughters and who make “all possible efforts to control my sex while I am still a thought.” By ‘they’ is meant the protagonist’s parents, grandparents and all the relatives. His parents fast every week and make “my sex a part of their daily prayers. My grandparents tried to influence things remotely. They did havans” and what not.
When the protagonist is in school, it is time for his sister’s marriage. But his father suffers an attack of angina and gets admitted to the ICU where “life outside an ICU comes to a standstill for the patient and his relatives. All ambitions and the joy of attaining them seem useless.” The author says, “Those few days reminded me of how everything was so transient and the importance of cherishing what we had.” The angina pain marks the beginning of a slow end for his father.
Then one day he receives a call from his mother announcing his father’s death. He takes the plane to Delhi and meets his family. After the kriya, he realises the next morning that he has lost his youth and “become as tough as my family expected me to be and I had to finish my institute with a Red Degree, which someone gets when he gets a five in all his exams.”
Pankaj returns to Volgograd to earn the Red Degree. He struggles to sustain himself in a highly expensive, newly capitalist Russia. His seniors, who he always looks up to as gods, unexpectedly turn into his enemies and conspire to ruin him with the help of the local mafia. Meanwhile, he falls in love with Sveta but the latter breaks of the relationship. He takes up the gauntlet of fighting all his adversaries and emerges victorious.
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