The perks of being a book reviewer are connecting with other fellow bibliophiles. ThinkerViews Team enjoys and looks forward to such opportunities where we can connect with authors presenting the readers with interesting and entertaining stories.
We had a chance to connect with author Sredhanea Ramkrishnan over her debut work – The Cord. A food technologist and a content writer by profession and choice, she also is an avid reader of books herself who has now ventured into the world of writing fiction. The book has won her multiple awards in the aspiring/budding writer categories, as listed on the cover.
The author provided us the review copy The Cord, published in December 2021 by Zero degree publishing. We extend our thanks to the writer for providing us the review copy and we are happy to share our review of this book with you.
|Zero Degree Publishing ( 1 Jan 2022)
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This Is Here In For You
Let us take a look at the cover page of this book.
The cover page of this book features a soldier facing a gloomy, grey, smoke-filled battlefield with his back to the viewers. The soldiers reflection is also captured in the blood-red pool on the bottom half of the page. The space in-between is separated by a barbed wire that forms the title of the book.
The design of the coverpage reflects the conflict of the characters caught between familial affection, guilt and the transitory nature of friends and enemies when nations are divided and barbed wire borders are erected to form new countries. While the cover page is apt for the story, a brighter colour scheme could have attracted more readers.
We meet Ashraf Ullah, his family and friends as India is being divided in 1947. The borders are drawn and millions are travelling from one side of the border to other. Ashraf Ullah is driven to leaving India and move to Pakistan, but his elder son Azad stays back.
Ashraf Ullah continues to be a soldier – now for the Pakistani Army, while Azad is accepted in the household of Ashraf’s best friend Vijay Singh and continues his education and training, eventually to join the Indian Army. Azad continues to write letters to his family, which has father does not read.
Azad grows up into a fine soldier, and also starts a family after marrying the love of his life Sunaina. They have children Pari and Ashraf and Azad has some contact with his mother Bismah.
On a fateful day in the war of 1965, Ashraf ends up fighting against and killing Vijay Singh. He comes back from this war a broken man. When he is brought out of retirement for the 1971 war, it is with a fatalistic sense that he joins.
Fate has decided to bring this estranged father-son together in the war as they fight for different sides? What will they chose this time?
Views and Reviews:
The author tells us that the motivating thought for her penning this type of story was how she wanted to express the humanity that lies deep beneath the layers of patriotism, valour and discipline, amongst the soldiers who continue to fight so that their fellow countrymen can continue to enjoy peace. They do their duty, but it comes at costs of witnessing inhumane brutalities and experiencing trauma more often than not. Today, there is a lot more awareness about the mental toll that battles take on soldiers, but in the first half of twentieth century, a lot of soldiers came home, a broken shell of themselves from the World Wars. The author shows us such a man through Major Karanveer, who is one of the best characters in the book. Here are some lines from him that resonate the wisdom he has learned through the hardships of life and war:
Soldiers cannot question the lives that are lost, if the lost lives were stabbed, skinned or let to rot but have to see past the deaths into the lives they’re saving.
I hope this war doesn’t affect your core. But I’m worried what kind of a man you would be if it doesn’t.
The author begins the book with the backdrop yet another horrendously traumatic event – partition of India. And how a single moment can lead to someone leaving the life they have known to go to an unknown place and begin anew. The partition separated countless families and even more lost their loved ones in the ensuing riots and violence. Here, Ashraf Ullah, his wife Bismah and daughter Nafizah lose Azad who decides to stay back. But, Azad is also lost until he finds family in his father’s closest friend. The author shows us how true bond of friendship can endure:
If any soul in this abode ever judges his patriotism or allegiances, I shall make sure they do not live to take another breath.
Borders had been drawn and families had been broken.
The book then gives us Azad’s journey, where years pass by and I did think that the timeline could be straightened a bit. When his parents leave India, he is a teenager. Seven years later, he is studying to be a soldier and he gets married a few years later. This is a long waiting time for youngsters living in 1950s, but then they have some challenges to overcome. And the author is taking us through to 1965 and 1971 wars. Azad is seventeen years old in 1947, so he should be 41 years old in 1971, and yet it is mentioned that he is a Major then, before he is 40. While 1965 war requires Ashraf to put his duty, as he sees it, above friendship, the 1971 war brings the challenge for Azad as he struggles with guilt, affection and fear for safety of his father. The author leaves some unanswered questions for the readers to ponder over at the end.
This would also make you think about the title of the book and how some cords, even when cut, can never really be ignored. The bonds of family and friendship are strong enough to momentarily overpower the logic and sense of duty.
The book is written in an easily readable way, with most of the narrative taking place through dialogues and letters. There are occasional typographical errors, For example,
The sentry on the neem tree t the east had signalleded that…
So, some proofreading and editing could make the next edition of the book error-free.
An interesting exploration of a family caught between the rifts of love, guilt and duty…
Around 7.5 stars out of 10.
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