Book: 'The Reverse Journey'; Author: Vivek Kumar Singh; Publisher: Frog Books, Mumbai;
Pages: 122; Price: Rs.95
A beautiful tale, told straight from the heart. This description could well summarise this slim work of fiction from yet another IIT product, this one from Kanpur.
I read it in one go, and wondered if this is just fiction, as the publishers call it, or whether it is the story of the author himself. I assume it is the latter. Either way, it is a simple but moving story of a successful young Indian IT professional who makes it, like countless others, to the US of A to earn big bucks.
He quickly finds friends, including those who studied with him. There are ABCDs (American Born Confused Desis) and FoBs (Fresh off the Boat - like the author.) He also bumps into his principal's daughter Koel, who was a heartthrob in school but was cool to boys who chased her. Now in New Jersey, she is looking 'fabulous in Western dress'.
The efficiency of America impresses this man from Bihar who, like so many Indians, is sick and tired of the sloth, dirt, red tape and graft that form India's cancer. Yet America can be impersonal too, and the man soon starts to pine for the India he has left behind.
The question keeps popping up in his mind: should he stay on in the US, as indeed his friends (including first generation Pakistani immigrant Iqbal) want him to, or head back home, to his society and his family, before it is too late. An accident in which he narrowly survives helps him make up his mind. He heads home.
This is a simple story told with passion. Along the way, the author dissects both American and Indian societies, their strengths and failings. The weaving is perfect. This is a good story, and well told.
(M.R. Narayan Swamy can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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