Name: The Unwanted Shadow
Author: Bhaskaryya Deka
Bookhad Rating: 4/10
The Unwanted Shadow is the story of Mohan and how he takes control of the reins of his life. It is a story told many times; about a town folk leaving his old life behind and settling in a big city; about him severing his ties from his family and friends from back home and how he returns to them in the end.
The author has definitely used an old canvas to build a story around it, but the effect is not that of antiquity or repetition. It does seem that the end product is not borne from a fresh mould crafted by the writer himself, but it isn’t something that would be balked at by the reader because of recognizing traits as being a product of an unoriginal thought. It is lying somewhere in the middle of an honest attempt and a successful finishing move.
Mohan leaves his family behind to pursue his dream of studying English against the wishes of his father who wanted him to continue his job after him. His father taught in the town’s school and was a generally well-respected man. His father doesn’t approve of his son’s wishes and decides not to support him in his education. Mohan works odd jobs and applies for scholarships and finally succeeds in getting placed at a good college in Delhi.
His move to Delhi is affected by his father’s death under mysterious circumstances, which is boxed down as a robbery attempt gone wrong. His sisters convince him to go ahead for his studies and his dreams. He leaves behind a poor family to study and to do something with his life.
This is where the story, technically speaking, unravels. He was expected, and he had planned no doubt, that he would visit his family after three years. His tight budget didn’t allow him to visit his family before his studies were over. But, well, he doesn’t bother too much. Mohan even stops talking to them apart from an occasional phone call or a letter from his younger sister.
This after his elder sister dished out a fat sum of money from her personal bank account to help him survive Delhi’s atmosphere.
Shit happens when he falls in love. He even plans to get married without spending a few minutes to worry about his impoverished family back home. This is when the setbacks begin. His first girlfriend leaves him because her father, an army background et al, makes her life miserable.
She kills herself.
The second girl he dates has a past which has earned her the choicest nicknames but Mohan, like a true mature man, doesn’t care what others have to tell about her. Even her father is a strict disciplinarian, but he is taken over by Mohan’s maturity and let him marry his ‘tainted’ daughter.
Once this happens the rest of the story takes place at a slower place. But, in my opinion, this is the more interesting part of the book.
Shreya, his newly married wife, is found murdered in their bed and Mohan has no memory about any event after making love to her. He is indicted and jailed and is in for a double life sentence when an aspect of Mohan’s life exfoliates and jumbles up an already jumbled up storyline. Prison, mental asylums, innocent undertrials and understanding and accommodative wardens, the storyline has all the ingredients of an Indian Movie. It has a lot of drama and soppy love. Although the writer has tried hard to make it sound like a mature romance it doesn’t really come across as that.
Mr. Deka has used a good amount of psychology in his writing after the initial failed attempt of the first half of the novel. He has used a good hand and it comes out well in the tight narration. Mohan’s voice, the lone voice, speaks in short bursts of sentences instead of long winding dialogues. It brings the loneliness and hopelessness well in the tone. Like already mentioned, the second half of the novel is the better written part.
Bookhad wishes him all the luck in his future writings and congratulates him on his second work of fiction!
NB: The review was requested by the author.