Title: Story of Tublu
Author: Jahid Akhtar
Publisher: Lifi Publications, New Delhi, 2015
Pages: xii + 204 Price: Rs200
Every individual carries at least one story within him/her: his/her own story. Life is a series of inevitable ups and downs which can be formulated into a beautiful tale with a little imagination and some effort. Jahid Akhtar succeeds in weaving one such tale in his debut novel, Story of Tublu.
It is not an autobiographical novel, of course. It reads like a story that could have happened really. Every line reads as if it is taken from actual life. Every character is like someone we may actually meet in real life. The author does not take recourse to any literary embellishments or sophisticated techniques to narrate his story. It’s a straightforward narrative that comes in the simplest language possible and tells the story of some children who eventually grow up into young adults going through the inevitable ups and downs of life.
Tublu (Tanmay) and his father are rendered homeless by the inundation of the Brahmaputra and they travel a long distance to the city in order to seek the assistance of Mr Sharma who is a contractor-turned-educator. With the benign assistance of Mr Sharma, Tublu is able to get good education and move on to a successful career. Maina, Mr Sharma’s charming daughter, occupies a prominent place in Tublu’s affections. She falls in love with someone else, however, whom she is not able to marry due not only to the difference in their religion but also to her father’s tragic illness. The man chosen for her by her parents ends up as a failure in more ways than one.
While the plot revolves round mostly Tublu and Maina, there are other interesting characters too: Maina’s brother who studies in America and marries an American as well as Tublu’s various friends. The novel looks at the nature of human relationships which can transcend certain boundaries made by man such as religion and nationality or which may in some cases remain at the level of sheer superficiality. The plot moves from Assam to Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi, as the characters travel for studies or jobs. It crosses the national borders too occasionally.
It’s a fast-moving plot. About two and a half decades pass in 204 pages. While the pace helps to keep the reader glued to the pages, it runs the risk of rendering the narrative slightly superficial. Perhaps, a slower pace would have helped the author to take deeper looks into the complexity of each major character’s psyche. The novelist’s intention, however, seems to tell a good story in the simplest manner possible and he has succeeded in that.
The foreword does an injustice to the reader: it lets out the climax of the novel thus potentially damaging the reader’s eagerness which would have been better sustained by suspense. The reader may skip the foreword and return to it after reading the novel. Young readers are particularly likely to find the novel thrilling.