Harold S. Kushner once said, “I think of life as a good book. The further you get into it, the more it begins to make sense.” I want to say exactly the same thing about Anubhav Jyotirmoy’s debut novel The Six+1 Wish. The more you delve deeper in the book, the more it becomes meaningful. The author has revealed some truths in this book which reality obscures. His way of story-telling is simple but effective and, he has successfully maneuvered to pack in quite a number of things within 190 pages.
Set in the backdrop of the small city of Gorakhpur, the story revolves around the life of two persons, the author himself and, a person Shashank, he meets accidentally while driving through Gorakhpur-Deoria National Highway. Primarily, what appears to be a benign solitary journey, gains pace as Shashank begins the story of his life and makes the author drive steadfastly without any stop.
As the car proceeds incessantly, Shashank’s story unfolds itself in myriad layers. His love-at-first-sight with a girl named Tanak, the nitty-gritty of his everyday life, his workplace, his dream and, his friends. Then he recalls an eventful night, the night on which he met his grandfather, who died when he was merely a child! Would it ever be possible for Shashank to witness the propitious rays of the sun, as it marks the end of the night?
No, don’t ever assume it as a ghost story. Rather it’s a story that raises several questions to the society; futility of education, the caste system, female foeticide and few others. But Anubhav has skillfully camouflaged all of them and, never the reader feels taxed or being preached.
We often refrain ourselves from doing something just because for other’s sake, or, for the sake of the society. Society’s approval or disapproval brings untimely death to many of our wishes. Our inner-self wants to get winged but, we cage our desires and, they go to the grave with us. But some love, some desires are so strong that they continue to make their presence felt even after the body perishes.
What happens to them? What happens to those six wishes of six souls which benumbed Shashank as he confronted them? Well, the story takes a twist as it answers the question.
Anubhav has a simple narrative style. No sashaying along with bombastic words or ostentatious phrases. He just writes what he wants to convey to his readers. The book is written somewhat in the style of a diary which helps the readers to connect with the sequence of events. The style may look bland to some but, I find it quite okay.
While reading The Six+1 Wish, I remember Walter De La Mare’s ‘The Listeners”; where a traveller encounters a subtle supernatural experience but fails to break the barrier between the life and the afterlife. In Anubhav’s story, someone does break that intangible and invisible barrier and, a new world order reveals itself in front of the readers.
This is not about one’s belief or denial towards the afterlife, this is an age-old theory on which the story is based. As has been said by Lord Krishna in The Bhagawad Gita, Chapter II, Shloka 22, “Vasansi jirnani yatha vihaya navani grihnati naro aparnai, tatha sarirani vihaya jirnanyanyani sanyati navani dehi” – Soul is eternal and, our existence is timeless. Souls leave our body just as we leave our old worn clothes to wear newer ones. I can’t help quoting these lines. Though the book has nothing to do with philosophy, but, it will make you think of these very lines as it explains the life after death in its own way.
The first few pages are dragging and appear to be uninteresting, even the actions and events look incoherent. But as you proceed further, the pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into places. The thrill soon takes over the mind making it a riveting tale of love, life, emotions, betrayal, insecurity, murder, and the afterlife.
As I already have said, the first few pages are unappealing and, I think the author should try to rectify this hitch in his next book. There are a few more events which have no plausible explanations and some incidents, especially, the Shashank-Tanak episode looks over-imaginative. The way the saga of Anurag and Anushi ends seems melodramatic too.
However, Anubhav Jyotirmoy has successfully made his debut work quite a gripping read. I recommend it for all who like to read something simple yet different.
From my side, it’s 3.75/5
[This review was commissioned by the author. The views are my own and honest.]