Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Book Review : Sepia Leaves (By Amandeep Sandhu)

Buy it online on Amazon.

"Who you are is overshadowed by how you are perceived by one another, controlled and distorted by expectations of how we ought to be."

"The filth keeps changing form, and we software engineers keep hiding from it in the cool environs of our codes and projects; as if the degradation of the city has nothing to do with us."

"Rain is good on wedding days, rainy marriages last a long time. But will they be happy ? The rain cannot wash the wounds formed by dislike, which fester in loneliness."

A story told in flashback. A schizophrenic mother, a hapless but loyal father and a lost childhood with its share of adolescent awareness. The story is set in 70's in a small town, Rourkela. Built around the Steel plant, it has an interesting cosmopolitan mix of migrants from various states. A child grows up in a nuclear family with a mother who is distant and he keeps wondering whether she loves him. Not realizing her illness, he ends up comparing his own unkempt house with his neighbor's and eventually his parents with the neighbors. In those childish thoughts, one can find a glimpse of their dysfunctional family life.

The lonely child's friendship with a stray dog, a newspaper vendor and a housemaid are very well detailed. It is an everyday story with those brilliantly narrated mundane details which eggs on the reader. 

There is a brief mention of the Emergency and how if affected everyone. Then there is the child's stint at a boarding school which raises issues like sexual abuse and ragging prevalent in such institutions. Small details like a brush with chickenpox, the grand Dusshera celebrations in Rourkela, a visit to Punjab, and the father's fondness for ghazals and poetry add a brilliant and realistic touch to the story of a child who struggles to come to terms with the tragic reality of a living in a decaying household.

This book is a must read !! Savor it at your own pace for it will occupy your thoughts for a long time...

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