IN this thriller, a love story, a pathological view of history, a confusing maze, a tale of morality, an account of the Bombay plague of 1896, the writers Kalpana Swaminathan and Ishrat Syed, surgeons, combine together to form the pseudonym Kalpish Ratna.
Beginning on the day of the demolition of so-called Babri Masjid and meandering through the backwash of sectarian rhetoric and the subsequent violence, the authors focus on the life of Ratan Oak, a Maharashtrian Brahmin and freelancing microbiologist, who is prone to getting hallucinations. It so happens that Ratan Oak stumbles upon a corpse at Kipling House in Bombay. This marks the beginning of the unravelling of the hidden identity he has tried to suppress all through his life – that of his great grandfather Ramratan Oak, who is a mortician.
The story picks up fast and it is discovered by Ratan Oak that he’s not only Ratan Oak but also Ramratan Oak, his great grandfather and he is part of the understanding between different communities to curb hate. In between, the story talks of colonial rule in India when the British had us believe that everything was fine with their Raj.
The authors give a very realistic description of the development of medicine in India and the world, while throwing in relationships between lovers, spouses, parents and children and friends.
(HarperCollins Publishers India, A-53, Sector 57, Noida-201301.)