Book: A Broken Man
Author: Akash Verma
Publication: Srishti Publishers
Politics and caste-ism are two issues where I usually go mute. One because I do not understand or rather try not to understand the way political parties function by throwing muck at each other, pulling each other down and causing furore over progressive ideas instead of uniting and making the nation a real gem in the world. And two because I am uncomfortable about the caste system still prevailing in the country.
On reading the blurb of this book sent by Writers Melon, I had a fair idea of how the story will shape up.
Set against a backdrop of caste differences, caste reservation policies and agitations, student politics and elections, A Broken Man is essentially a love story between Chhavi, a Brahmin girl and Krishna, a Dalit boy. Brought up in extreme poverty and discrimination by the upper castes in remote village of Bihar, the inner angst against his condition and towards the Brahmin community is fanned by the local student leaders. Provoked Krishna stands against Chhavi, a member of the student association which raises the issues of inconsistency in facilities for students. In a conspiracy, the student political group stages an accident to appear as an attempt of self-immolation by her. Krishna, being the eye-witness of the crime is shaken by the ugly face of the political group of students and saves Chhavi endangering his own life.
The heroic act of Krishna makes Chhavi fall for her savior. The foes turned friends become lovers soon after. The familial pressure however, forces their separation.
But love triumphs finally and the estranged lovers come together years later having fulfilled their family duties and promise to each other.
Though the story of a rich girl falling in love with a poor boy is an over-used formula which has been used exhaustively beyond its life in films and novels yet the angle of an upper caste girl getting involved with a lower caste boy in Indian society seems like a new idea because in Hindi cinema the story usually steers clear of any mention of caste.
Cleverly, this story also does not ruffle any feathers by not painting either of the communities in too bad light and simply dwells on the love of two human beings who have been separated by circumstances. In an easy narrative the story glides smoothly from present into a flashback of college politics, family differences, separation, success story and back to present.
There isn’t any awkward gap or slackening of the pace in the narrative.
Having seen enough inter-caste marriages in my family, I am however not convinced of a small issue….but that may be because I am being too practical or too critical of the story. For any person brought up in as much comforts as Chhavi has been portrayed, it is difficult to envision a life in as much poverty as Krishna has been brought up in, irrespective of any caste. But Chhavvi is unaffected….may be its is wishful thinking of author.
Overall a good and easy read….