Thursday, 20 August 2015

BOOK REVIEW : NOON by AATISH TASEER


NOON is that time of the day when the sun is at its zenith... We can even say it is at its highest peak.. Around 12'o clock...
A weird and out of context beginning of a post.... Right???
Wrong!!! I am not talking random ( though I usually am a pro in randomness).. The word NOON is very significant here..
Reason being simple.... we have an author here, the title of whose book is NOON, which (to me) sounds very intriguing..... for this one word is full of numerous interpretations as per the reader' s discretion...
Aatish Taseer, a man with four books to his credit...
A man not unknown to controversy, conspiracies, chaos and confusion...
And he brings it all in his writing as he sees it - as he feels it - as he experiences it!!!!!
Taseer's first book "Stranger to History : A Son's Journey Through Islamic Lands (2009) is a part memoir part travelogue.
This book NOON is a loose adaptation of his memoir with the same star cast : a strong Sikh mother, a famous Muslim father, a childhood in Delhi during the 80's, a journey to Pakistan to meet his elusive father and the extended family, the impact on one's emotional DNA as a result of craving for an absentee father!!!!
The story starts with a train journey undertaken by Rehan Tabassum ( the main protagonist) to Pakistan to meet his estranged father and family for the first time. Here he meets a young boy from Kashmir who talks about the recent horrific earthquake which had devastating effects. An interesting beginning!!
The story then moves to Delhi ,during the 80's when a young Rehan comes from England with his mother to live at his maternal grandmother's house. Taseer then moves the story ahead to the mid 90's when Rehan, now studying in the U.K returns to Delhi during his summer break. He is staying in the family farm house to concentrate on his writing , when suddenly the calm and tranquillity is shattered by a burglary.
Taseer spends a good portion of his story time in this incident, trying to highlight the deep rooted caste system of our Indian society which refuses to fade away in the face of all globalisation, modernisation!! It is a staunch reminder of the harsh reality of our society which the new age/ gen x/ urban India wants to forget and move on!!
Though this incident seems to be an important part of the story and I presumed that it was going to take the story further, Taseer ends it abruptly by showing Rehan going back to the U.K unable to handle the situation what with the police hounding his seemingly innocent staff!!!
A typical attitude.. Run away from what you cannot face or handle!!
The story now comes to its final chapters when Rehan goes back to Pakistan to spend some quality time with his step brother and experiences first hand the life under a dominating father, an uncle who is very loyal to his father ( loyalty which crosses the healthy limit), an older step brother who like Rehan has always craved for an absentee father' s attention and the young Kashmiri who tries to fit in there by claiming allegiance to one party while getting cozy with the other.
Taseer tries his best to highlight the hypocrisy and an inherent sense of confusion which plagues the Pakistani society but somewhere he fails to get the empathy of his readers.
I for one felt shortchanged after reading this book. Aatish Taseer has been touted as the next big thing in the world of literature, but this book has been a disapointment. Its seems like Taseer wanted to write about two three topics and instead of writing a short story on them, he pieced it together in the form of a novel. But the stitching has been very haphazard and has many visible gaping holes which left me with a feeling of being cheated out!!!
As this is his only book which I have read, I cannot comment about his writing skills per se, but have to say this , "what a let down!!"
Just have to say this before ending the post, just because people say that one has an interesting life, one need not write a story on it.. A story should always be written with the most basic equipment...A GOOD SUBJECT and an INTERESTING STORYLINE!!!

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