Book: Demons in my Mind
Author: Aashish Gupta
Bookhad Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥
We took a long break from our regular reviewing and, after a year, we think it’s time to get back to business.
I would like to begin the year of with one of the three Indian writers we read this year. The great part about the experience was that only one of three is a known personality while the other two are debutants. The well known writer is, well, so well known that people drop by his house unannounced (nudge nudge! wink wink!) and he takes them in at times for a little chat. At least that’s the legend we keep hearing all the time. More to come on this, later. I promise.
From the other two first timers, I’ve picked up Demons in My Mind for two reasons. One, it was the first one I read among the debutants. Two, the author emailed me personally requesting a review. This review is more in-depth and detailed than the one I sent the author.
Aashish Gupta’s debut novel deals with a man’s dying wishes to meet the fabled Three Monks. The meeting with the three comes around and Dakshesh, the dying man in question, finds out how fickle society is when judging the doings of a man and evaluating the significance of their acts when they surrender to their most base and rawest nature. I loved certain parts while certain parts didn’t go down well with me as they seemed too puerile. The three monks are one of the many fabled Three roaming around the edges of the world and appear only when they are most needed. Dakshesh’s wish to meet them is fulfilled when the villagers leave him unconscious under a tree all the while hoping that the three will show up and fulfil the dying man’s wishes.
When Dakshesh opens his eyes he appears to be in a monastery high up in Himalayas. The three monks are in various state of meditation and by and by come about to speak to him.
The stories of each monk traverses the various layers of a human’s mind. Rizwan, Murli and Joseph; their stories come a full circle towards the end in an extremely dramatic and gory manner. I would go a little further and call it repulsive, at times. The author has done a great job going full Dexter in his experimentation with blood, violence and savagery.
Rizwan’s story is about his schizophrenia and the dichotomy that exists within his head. It ultimately leads him to the destruction of his soul with murder. Murli is an artist trapped within his own ego and is manipulated by it. His success leads him astray and leaves him bereft of understanding of human nature towards the end by the action of his extreme pride. Joseph’s story travels the route that both of them have chartered, but he isn’t on the scene. The climax of the story comes in a brutal and self serving manner. Joseph is a product of the world that Rizwan and Murli create with their violence and bloodshed.
I will not call it done wantonly, but I will agree that certain scenes in the book could’ve been done better with less gruesome and graphical manifestations of the writer’s thought. Full marks for gore and blood, but more is not always great; on the contrary, it usually doesn’t help the cause.
The Three Monks teach us the various evils that our minds can concoct if the age old adage of “mind over matter” is not understood and taken care of. Rizwan lets his mind dictate what he sees and imagines and ultimately ends up murdering his loved ones in a fit of frenzy. Murli, in an attempt to create a masterpiece after his pummelling popularity rapes a helpless girl and kills another in a stadium filled with his admirers. Joseph, in his quest for understanding real peace and forgiveness, and to fulfil an oath given to his friend, abuses and punishes a young girl so brutally that there are scenes that can make the reader gag.
Apart from the basic premise of the 330 page book, there is little else that I can comment upon. It is a quick read and some might call it a thriller, but I wouldn’t do that. It wasn’t much of a thriller, but it did make me want to reach the end and see how it all ties up. I was glad that the story has very few loopholes that I could find, and it did tie up in the end, if not cleanly. There is a dire need to go through sentence structures and grammatical errors. Though not a lot, but it’s a published book and the editors should be doing a better job.
My personal peeve was the usage and verbosity of the prose. At times, the writer has made use of some really beautifully carved words, but which didn’t sit well with the sentence. It felt forced as if the character is speaking a foreign language, or that the situation demands a softer word instead of the one used. And long sentences made it too bothersome. Lots of rhymes. Lots of FULL CAPS. Lot of “Sirs”.
The poetry. I really liked the last one when Alia is under the influence of drugs. It has a great beat and it was well written, although there was some strain the rhymes. I think that a blank verse would’ve been a great idea. The writer has a thing for rhymes, as it is spread throughout the book. The parts where the writer wants to do the job of an MC, he uses the help of rhymes. Done well, if over done at times.
The last thing that I would like to point out is the lack of showing and an overflow of telling. The storytelling aspect is a little muddled in my head regarding the intent of Roy doing all those things to Alia. I just don’t see it. The thing is that if we try hard we can relate anything to anything. For example, If I know I am to arrive at “END”, I can circumvent logic, use wordplay, employ literary devices and use psychology to arrive at it. It felt a little like that while I read it. The theories if the Three Monks who tried explaining matters of the mind seemed to confuse me at times, but they did do their job.
Dakshesh dies with a smile.
Despite whatever shortcomings, the author has done a good job considering it is his debut. I will keep in mind when he writes another one.