In the changing time when not only in films but also in TV Shows and even web shows (a few exceptions are always there, of course), mostly the rich city life is explored and the actual rural India and middle class homes/offices/life style are almost forgotten, the modern day readers may not connect themselves with the stories of Premchand-ji and others. Especially, the English literature readers and convent graduates.
In Hindi readership also, the things are changing. So, it is rare or frequent to find an author trying to write a simple story exploring the day-to-day struggle of life (yes, for some people, every day is a challenge to survive). How many of the readers want to explore such stories? Recently, when I got a chance to read “Christmas Gift” (क्रिसमस गिफ्ट) by Author Kamal Upadhyay, these thoughts took me over.
Some people may find it a sadist exploration, however, I feel that a society is a body and all of its internal and external organs are equally important for the overall health of the society. Just neglecting a part will not cure it.
Anyway, let us remain focused on this book – Chrismas Gift.
This background is necessary for you to decide whether you like exploring such stories or not.
|Book Title||:||क्रिसमस गिफ्ट
|Publisher||:||Self published (2021)|
|# of Pages||:||983 KB; 32 (Kindle EBook)|
|# of Chapters||:||–|
Let us take a look at the book cover.
Being an entry point to the the virtual world followed by it, the cover page creates the first impression of the book. And, we humans, by nature, are attracted toward beauty. So, a cover page can highly influence purchase/read decisions for sure.
As you can see the cover page is really attractive and impressive. The use of red color, the illustration of gift-wrapping via red ribbon, the appearance of Santa Claus, two young kids, both from different religions – walking like blood brothers, and the illustration of a poor area of a metro-city, all these elements are weaved so nicely, that you can’t neglect it.
Definitely, a detailed, attractive and true-to-the-story-within cover page. The cover designer deserves applause for his/her work.
Let us take a very brief bird’s eye view of the story.
Sonu (सोनू) a poor young boy, lives in the neighborhoods of families like his. Rather then calling a house, a hut may be a more suitable word for his home. He is having the typical “poor family” life style. Survival is not less than a struggle for his family. In his own words:
किस्मत तो नसीब है बे, जो अपनी खोटी है| नहीं तो कहाँ अठ्ठनी (अठन्नी) के लिए लड़ना पड़ता|
This quote is sufficient to imagine the condition of his family.
Amjad (अमजद), his friend or sometimes a support or savior, is not much older than him. Their escapades to their respective religious places (temple and mosque, respectively) often bring either of them in a trouble.
While the young boy was interested in having a video game to play, his family cannot afford it.
And then, they came to know about the festival of “Christmas” and the concept of “Santa Claus”. It doesn’t matter for them whether it is a fictional legend or a reality, they wanted to believe that on that particular day, may be, at least, one of them, may see getting his wish fulfilled.
And yes, you meet Vishal (विशाल), Jatashankar Master (जटाशंकर मास्टर), Sonu’s parents and a few more characters over the course of the story.
Views and Reviews:
Set up in Mumbai, 1998 (मुंबई, १९९८) this small tale explores the two totally distinct sides of the society. The author doesn’t shy away when to expose any hypocrisy. Being a satirist himself, it comes naturally to write such stuff for Kamal.
I must say that he took a bold step by writing this story. Because, as said earlier, readers these days love exploring fantasy fictions. The over-exposure to the world of rich and so called modern fellows, especially via social media, made their likes/dislikes different. At the same, when you see the web-series like Panchayat or movies like Hindi Medium are getting good audience, you can hope that such time will come for books in realistic/rural zoner as well.
The author is good at exploring the surrounding and building scenes. For examples, using a single additional sentence he elaborates almost everything for Sonu’s home.
सोनू दौड़ता हुआ, अपने घर में दाखिल हुआ| घर के नामपर चौदह फ़ीट लम्बी और बारह फ़ीट चौड़ी एक खोली थी|
While these days “good parenting” is too focused and “freedom” is given “more than due” weightage, the lines like the following will remind you of old times. And, the reality is still same in poor households.
सोनू घर में दाखिल हुआ ही था की पीछे से उसकी मम्मी भी दाखिल हुई और सोनू के ऊपर हवाई चप्पलो की बौछार कर दी| सोनू दोनों हाथो से अपने आप को बचने की कोशिश में लगा था लेकिन मम्मी ने तो जैसे चप्पल पिटाई का कोर्स किया हो|
People struggling to meed ends and getting humiliation throughout from the outer world, don’t have luxury for the parenting lessons. Their quota of patience seems already tested for the limit. And, the author doesn’t forget to infuse a little dose of humor in the same.
Some scenes are elaborated in a really interesting way.
सोनू ने अपने परीक्षा ज्ञान के डायलॉग को कुछ ज्यादा ही लम्बा खींच लिया, जिसका परिणाम यह हुआ की मुँह तक पहुँचते-पहुँचते बिस्कुट के जोड़ गलकर आधे से नीचे गिर गए, वो तो समय रहते सोनू ने बिस्कुट गिरने की गति और पायथागोरस प्रमेय के लांब का ज्ञान लिया और बिस्कुट दूध के गिलास में ही गिरा|
Only a seasoned author can weave all these elements/emotions together.
The humor in the book is quite interesting. Rather then using abusive and crap stuff, the author relies on the “situational-comedy” (or SitCom) attributes. I enjoyed reading such lines:
जटाशंकर मास्टर की बात सुनकर, सभी छात्रों की खुशी दीवाली के उस पाऊस की तरह गायब हो गई, जो ऊपर बढ़ने ही वाला होता है की उसका बारूद ख़त्म हो जाता है|
A child’s wondering mind and daydreaming, and an element of shock that brings him to the real-world is seen quite amazingly in the below mentioned block:
सोनुआ तुम किलास में सोने आते हो?
सोनू अपनी दुनिया से बाहर निकला| शंकर भगवान् के दर्शन से अभी वो उबरा भी नहीं था की जटाशंकर मास्टर ने भी रौद्र रूप धारण कर लिया|
And yes, the author adds some fun moments, and especially mentions a TV show running those days to add to the contemporariness and light-moments in the book.
मेट्रो पर सुपरहिट मुकाबला आ रहा था| बाबा सैगल अपनी चिर परिचित शैली में शो को होस्ट कर रहा था|
I also like the satire and punch in the following segment:
अच्छा राजेश कुमार और देव आनंद कितना पढ़े-लिखे होंगे?
अबे जब इतने बड़े-बड़े लोगों की पढाई के बारे में कोई नहीं जानता तो तुम कौन सा एक दिन स्कूल नहीं जाओगे तो भूचाल आ जायेगा?
Of course, the name of one actor may be mentioned wrongly (or the author may want to mention a fictional name instead of Rajendra Kumar or Rajesh Khanna here), but it elaborates the fact that once you are successful, your traditional qualifications doesn’t matter much. And the way the friend uses this line to convince the kid to bunk the school for the day, is quite realistic. (Even the names of Steve Jobs / Bill Gates are often referred by many youngsters these days in almost similar context.
It makes you emotional reading about Sonu taking care of his old pair of Socks, so he can have gift next day, his struggle to fall asleep on the night when he was expecting a gift from Santa Clause, how he loses his small treasures to a bully, how he grabs and opportunity to get pampered by a neighbourhood aunt when his mom was beating him,… there are many scenes that stays with you.
Also, the exploration of the pious men of different religion meets in the dark night to enjoy their drink together, is a very impactful part of the book.
If I need to choose only a single line from the book, I will settle for the following. It is so emotional and heart-wrenching.
हे भगवान मेरे दोस्त अमजद को मार सहने की ताकत देना| क्योंकि पिटाई से बचानेवाली प्रार्थना तो आप सुनते ही नहीं हो|
If you are an emotional person, you will feel the pain of Sonu and Amjad.
By now, you must have got an idea about various attributes of the book.
An emotional tale exploring realities of the children growing up in tough situation. It is the part of the society we cannot neglect. And yes, there is a wonderful message of communal harmony as well. A book with Premchand-ji’s flair. It is meant for a selected group of readers who explore this kind of books.
Around 7 out of 10.
Quick Purchase links:
- Buy – क्रिसमस गिफ्ट By Kamal Upadhyay – Kindle Ebook – Amazon India
- Buy – क्रिसमस गिफ्ट By Kamal Upadhyay – Kindle Ebook – Amazon US
Over To You:
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