Man with the white beard …..

A story unfolds ..

A carpet of time unrolls … the story- fiction married to fact , the two intrinsically interwoven with the legacy of tresspasses of brutality across the length and breadth of the worlds largest so called secular democratic country and the daily mundane lives of its inhabitants !

The most recent significant massacres such as the sikh riots of 1984 , the gujrat gulberg society tragedy 2002 , the kandhamal atrocities 2008 , the still alive and ticking nuclear bomb that is the ruins of the 400 year old babri masjid have been blended into the fabric of the lives of goldy and his mother kulwanti with brilliant dexterity and prowess by the author Prof.Shah Alam khan , an oncologist orthopaedic surgeon at delhi’s premier institute AIIMS

man with the white beardKhan  writes – victims evaporate like steam and become numbers in a carnage ‘ bloodshed was a profitable business in india ‘ and only the

perpetrator survives ….’

Goldy an endearing toddler a robust ‘ full stop ‘ traumatised by a reccuring dream night after night till he is well into his teen , featuring the man with the white beard and three other tormentors , his mother kulwanti a middle class not much educated not so suave wonder woman who is the fulcrum

around whom the story revolves evolves and finally

reaches its climax !

The despair pain and personal losses of the characters their apprehensions and their fall and victories their joys and sorrows so beautifully intermingled with the horror of the massacres with candid simplicity by the author leaves you in deep thought as you read the last line ….

” the sea of time was funny she ( kulwanti ) thought . It drowns the dead , the dying and the living with equal ease . The injustice of man is corrected by the verascity of time ”

Metaphors dot the pages of the book bringing out deep emotions with total ease

“Hope is the most exploited proposition in human history ”

The subtlety with which issues of adoption , trafficking ,friendship, the dichotomy of religion and the relational digitisations created by it , the choiceless choice of choosing your goverment the chaos these create and the possibilities possible is played out by the characters is commendable ….

Khan  so intelligently puts forth todays present questionable reality through the stories and innocence of his characters a sikh a muslim a christian a helping hindu with his in depth understanding of the psychology of human nature . He manages to put a profund thought in the readers mind -does religion actually matter or take precedence in the interactions and daily lives of a normal average citizen …. is it not a political gameplay to stay in power or come to power that is instrumental in creating the ugly religious communal divide within the country and the truth behind each maccasare !” people love their god more than they love each other
Your god and my god ! As if man the ultimate creation of god ,now owned his own creator ” he writes !

Although through out the dream sequences of goldy , khan  blatantly gives you every possible clue he manages to keeps you in absolute suspense till the very end… only the last few pages revealing the true identity of the man with the white beard leaving the reader totally perplexed and awestruck !

Khan  with his characters takes you on a smooth ride through the extreme polarities of horror and hopefullness with much aplomb . The simple naive kulwanti wins your heart by the end as the compassionate woman of substance . She the epitome of motherhood benignant and humane in the face of the harshest trials and circumstances fuctioning from the space of ‘ never give up never give in never quit ‘ stays with you long after the completion of the story……….

” she had discovered that love lies underneath the debris of life like a hidden treasure ”

A must read !

What else is possible !

Shalini Gupta Newar is an artist


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