“God save us from people who mean well”- Vikram Seth
Author: Sanchit Gupta
No of pages: 279
Publisher: Niyogi Books
About the book:
The book starts in the year 1989 in the serene and beautiful environs of Srinagar Kashmir. Three children Safeena Malik, Deewan Bhat and Bilal Ahanagar share a lovely bond of friendship. A friendship that is as warm as the warmness of the kahwa. Like most children, they have an innocence and stand by each other as best friends do. Kashmir is a lovely abode where all live in peace and perfect harmony.
As the sun of 20th January 1990 rose all was not well. Kashmir entered in a dark tunnel escape from which became difficult. As the Kashmiri Pandits exodus began friends were separated, suspicions grew and the serenity which was synonymous to Kashmir slowly waned down. Suddenly the beautiful Kashmir became a conflicted zone and with people dying, being killed, tortured a thick blanket of darkness enveloped it’s very heart.
Twenty years hence the paths of these three friends again cross each other. Will the innocence and the beauty of their friendship still be there? Will the old friendship rekindle? How has their journey been in these 20 years?
The writer has a lot of clarity in his writing and a transparency that touches the deep recesses of your heart. He has heavily used colloquial words across the novel which makes the story come to life. The story follows a huge time period of 20 years and more yet the author has triumphed in building a complete picture. The story has a correct phase. Character development is the strength of the author as when you follow these three characters from childhood to adulthood you get a picture of how they have been molded. Further, each character comes out strong how minuscule the role maybe.
This is that one book that covers the entire kaleidoscope of activities right from the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits, the rise of terrorist activities and the present day situation. The book is not over exaggerated neither does it underplay instances and events and maintains a healthy balance. The author has shown how it is circumstances and events that often mold one’s character. How people fall into extremism is well portrayed in the book. What happens when one is wronged and the burning desire for revenge often becomes one’s life aim is shown well.
The title of the novel is very apt as I found it symbolic to the theme of the book. Just like an apple tree which is laden with fruits is beautiful and has a heady fragrance which envelopes its entire vicinity, Kashmir before was like that beautiful apple tree. But as war and strife caused havoc on its soil the apple tree lost its apples with no one to care. The apples were trampled on and while the fruits still remained and the tree still stood tall the fragrance sadly left.
I received a copy from the author for an honest opinion and review.