I am always on the lookout for new authors emerging from my native place, and I got to know that this book had come out several months back. The writer was from Kalimpong—a beautiful town in the district of Darjeeling, and the book was published by a local publisher. I picked it up immediately and began reading.
The premise is intriguing—a fictional story of a normal man who has become a monk due to some tragic incident, an incident especially related to identity issue—luring the reader in, making them want to read on. However, from the very beginning, a major problem does surface immediately—the language. The POV used is first person past-tense. But strangely the tense keeps switching back to present. Sometimes, even in a single sentence, past and present tense is blended, which I’m sure is incorrect. Although occasional usage of present tense is okay—especially while describing certain customs, places etc.—the switch happens too frequently for my liking. The punctuation is all over the place, and grammatical errors keep cropping up in every page, spawning an air of disgust. There are almost complete dialogues spoken in Hindi or Nepali, which again reeks of immaturity. The occasional reference to a word or two is fine (especially if it’s explained), but complete regional language sentences in an English novel is not recommended.
Nevertheless, the story is interesting. The author has built the story beautifully, forcing the reader to keep turning the pages. The characters are well etched, and you feel for all of them. The descriptions of ambiance are good throughout. The mental trauma experienced by the protagonist is well portrayed. I have seen such partiality being shown to students with Mongolian features in college, and I could relate to his angst. The romance part was also penned well. Nishita was such a sweet character, and her scenes with the protagonist really touched me. The northeastern siblings also season the narrative with a special flavor of friendship. The tragic, life-altering incident is also built up with brilliant expertise, and I really felt for the people involved. The anguish of the protagonist is written wonderfully, and the talent and poetic ability of the author shine here. But then again, the ending really poured water over the flames of my appreciation. Nothing is explained, the dialogue is lukewarm and pointless, and the unsubtle way in which it screams of a sequel really pushed me into a pit of fury. I almost felt like throwing the book away.
Be that as it may, overall I feel that this is a very promising start from the author. His storytelling skills are admirable. I’m sure that next time if he irons out his grammatical mistakes, he will gain at least 4 stars from my side. But this time, I cannot give more than 3 stars.