First of all, I wanna say that- I absolutely loved this book, thoroughly enjoyed it actually.
The book’s like a complicated recipe, you don’t know what’s in it and you sure won’t know what it tastes like after you eat it, and keep anticipating throughout the process.
The three important characters- Nanda, Khusru, and Rekha are intricately brought together in the mountains of Dhauladhar. Their journey will surprise and shock you to your core. The diversity from all over India and from foreign is written beautifully which will keep you hooked till the end.
Each has a story to tell of their own, they have been brought to the dam site by chance or fate. The author has etched each of these characters in pretty convincing detail. Through various series of unexpected twists and turns in their lives and the final denouement is startling, if a little sudden.
There is the reserved Nanda escaping his sorrowful past in Kerala, Khusru who comes from a shady past, and Rekha is a Doctor with a dancer’s soul.
Nanda tries to escape the death and hate he has always been a part of in his hometown in Kerala. He immerses himself in his job as an Engineer on the Dauladhar dam project, keeping to himself, allowing no-one to get close or trace him. The author draws from his own experiences while writing Nanda’s chapters. We see the corruption that is present in the system as is in every political system everywhere. And when lives are lost, due to flash floods or manual error, mouths are kept shut fearing backlash and monitory loss. But as is synonymous with any institution in India, there is a healthy dose of superstition and prayer present.
Seeing, yet unable to do much Khusru’s life gives the reader a glimpse into the terrorist occupied parts of Kashmir. His journey from the border village of Deran to Dauladhar. Hate brews between people. Either it’s between Hindus and Muslims, Indians and Pakistanis, or between Shias and Sunnis. No matter what people find a way to hate each other. Brought up in such a life is Khusru, who finds himself recruited to the ’cause’. He finally finds a purpose and a way to make many wrongs right, an outlet for his anger. But the truth is always multifaceted. The world isn’t divided into black and white as Khusru finds to his sorrow, in his journey from the divided village of Deran.
Rekha gives up her grandmother’s dreams of seeing her as a surgeon for dance and hopes of true love. She finds it in an unexpected way. Keep on reading to know what ultimately she ends up in being.
When it comes to Nanda’s chapters, sometimes it almost becomes more about the dam’s construction rather than that about the characters. Each and every engineering aspect is detailed.
On a very personal note, I think Shibu did a very good job, considering this was his first book published. Even though there is a lot of room for improvement, there is also a lot of potential and I really want to see how his writing develops in his future novels.
All in all an engaging read and am looking forward to Shibu’s next book.