A review of the newest book on the block
The protagonist of Arjun Raj Gaind’s latest coming-of-age novel, The Anatomy of Scars, is a young boy named Himmat.
Ironically, Himmat comes across as a whiny, ungrateful guy.
I’m not the only one who feels this way. Several characters in the book have pointed that to him; these include his girlfriend Soraya.
In fact, Himmat, too, is aware of his problem but, for some reason, is unable to act on resolving it.
What’s wrong with Himmat? What is his problem? What’s the cause of his whining? And what’s stopping him from working on his issues?
It all dates back to 1984.
An 8-year-old Himmat was in Punjab at the time instead of his hometown Bombay, visiting his maternal grandparents. First came Operation Blue Star, and then Indira Gandhi’s assassination.
In the aftermath of 31 October 1984, which led to a tense environment across the state, Himmat witnessed his grandfather do something that he labelled as an “unforgivable” lapse of courage and morality. While the act by itself wasn’t entirely wrong, Himmat, who idolised his grandfather, saw his “feet of clay”, judged him (quite unfairly, IMO) as a “liar” and “coward”, and refused to talk or clear things out with him.
The result: a painful life marred and scarred by hatred, resentment, and bitterness, first in Bombay and later in London, which forms the setting for the book’s second act.
As a demonstration of the negative effects of hatred and blame games on one’s psyche and life, this book succeeds exceptionally. In the process, however, Himmat’s whining got to me and I found it grating and jarring after a point. And while the denouement contains a wholesome takeaway, the realisation he finally gets at this stage is something I feel could have happened way earlier in the book.
So, should you invest in this book? Of course! Gaind’s poetical prose is always a treat, and the other characters, especially Himmat’s Nana and Nani, are truly engaging.
The beginning of the book is particularly its best part. It details the beautiful relationship Himmat shares with his maternal grandparents as a child and provides a vivid, chilling description of the state of Punjab in 1984.
Even in the second act, despite its issues, Gaind manages to keep things interesting, as well as humorous, with his distinctive style.
The Anatomy of Scars is a profound depiction of a young man’s mindset following a horrific event and how it affects his life and relationships. If you think you won’t mind the whiny bits, you can guarantee a rich, rewarding reading experience for yourself.
The Anatomy of Scars is currently available for purchase/download on Amazon. Kindle ebook price: ₹99; free on Kindle Unlimited.