Jahid Akhtar’s Story of Tublu is the story of a boy who hails from a village in Assam. As the tagline reads, the book is about “an amazing journey called life”. Jahid has declared in the ‘Acknowledgment’ section of his book, that, it is through blogging he has developed a habit of writing. And, I must admit that if you’re a regular reader of his blog Flashbacks, you’ll clearly understand how congruous the name is with the content of the blog.
In his debut novel also, Jahid has retained his simplistic style of writing. The backdrop of the story is set in the late eighties, in Assam. After losing almost everything in a devastating flood, Bipin along with his son Tanmay aka Tublu, come to the Sharmas in search of shelter. Mr. Sharma and his family not only provide them shelter but also make the father and the son capable enough to become self-dependent. The relationship between the Sharmas and Bipin-Tublu develops quickly and soon they become indispensable for each other. Life keeps on meandering through time but never does this bonding end between the two families.
From his very childhood, Tublu rears a soft spot for Maina, Mr. Sharma’s daughter. Never has he revealed his love to her, Maina is his very own imagination and fantasy. Some subtle hints, however, sometimes have raised doubts in Maina’s mind about Tublu’s feelings for her, but, the large social, cultural, and, economic gulf between them have restrained her to act accordingly.
With every passing year, as both of them grow up and experience the vast expanse of life outside their town, life molds itself differently for them. Every character of the story also changes in the due course of time. Their happiness, love, friendship, point of view- everything takes new twists and turns. Only one thing remains the same; not only same, it becomes stronger with time, that is Tublu’s love for Maina.
Jahid has a penchant for rejuvenating memories, his writings, most of the times, induce nostalgia. I have enjoyed the chapters dealing with Tublu’s college life, long sessions of chatting with friends, studying hard for hours and, indulging in innocent mischief. Jahid has painted those colourful days very nicely.
Apart from the protagonist Tublu, other characters like Maina, her brother Paplu, Mr. Sharma, Bipin, have been given enough space to breathe. Though has appeared for considerably a shorter period of time, but I think the character of Shilpa is quite strong and endearing. She has been able to mark her presence in my mind (perhaps, for her tattoo).
Story of Tublu is an enticing read. As I’ve already said, the language is too simple, you will need not to stumble upon any word. The plot is a simple one too, with no unexpected twist. But I would have been happier if the characters were more developed. The labyrinths of their minds, the mazes through which a relationship matures- all these had enough space to develop. The characters lack the myriad shades which every human being has; they appear to be too simple, too naive, almost monochromatic. And, there is not-so-good editing, which I hope, will be rectified in the next edition.
The ‘Foreword’ is a kind of spoiler and my advice to the readers is to leave it. You can come back to it happily after finishing the book.
The Chetan Bhagat era of writing is still very much in vogue and, Jahid’s narrative style has some resemblance with that of Bhagat’s. The nitty-gritty of everyday life, things known to everybody, small hopes and desires of a small town boy; all these have found life in Story of Tublu. I recommend this book for all who love life as it comes with romance and every other emotion.
Jahid Akhtar is a software developer by profession. He was born and brought up in Assam and resides in Bangalore with his wife Anjali and their little daughter, Jia. Jahid enjoys writing about some unforgettable moments, in his blog titled Flashbacks. Story of Tublu is his debut novel.