“I became we at seven o’clock on the longest day of the year at the moment when the ancient wall clock bonged for the seventh time”
The protagonist introduces himself with the above statement. I like to guess what comes next in a story, be it in movies or books. Most Indian stuff are predictable. Going by the above line, I was pretty sure the protagonist was referring to his marriage. Further reading proved me wrong, but I was not disappointed. He goes on to say, “I saw myself and behind me I saw myself” and explains at length about seeing more of himself – an infinite progression like seeing his reflection in a room flanked by mirrors on all sides. That is when the realization dawns on him that he has become a schizophrenic. He is happy about this state and feels liberated and goes on to claim that he had ‘attained’ the secret ideal of many in the 21st century after Christ. Like being schizophrenic is a state of Nirvana!
Twice Born, by Vijaya Raghavan, a journalist for over 2 decades, is the story of an English professor who divorces his love – his profession as a teacher- to marry a PRO career as a trade off to unite with his love. With just a little way into his marriage he realizes that he’d committed an unpardonable offense of yielding to lust. His personality suffers and his self-esteem is beyond economic repairs. A brief re-union with his son-turned-naxalite after years of separation from his wife, purges him of some bitterness. His becoming a schizophrenic is attributed to the torture meted out to him by the police during the interrogation on his son’s whereabouts.
There are a couple of nice anecdotes narrated by two of the ‘splintered’ personalities of the protagonist; one is about a poor, honest, ordinary man suddenly becoming rich (a rich stranger listening to the man ramble on his state of poverty, knocks on his door and parts with some wealth and vapourizes) only to be locked up in prison for the un-explained wealth! Yet another is about a little boy with confused parents who on one hand encourage him to ask questions and take him to task when he actually asks them!
Though nice in parts, the book falls short of a seamless connect between the events, and the plot is a damp squib. You will find an occasional gem of a thought like this: The pun is the only form of humour that provokes groans, the opposite of laughter; paradox is the only truth. So the punster is the only true human wit. Why am I spending so much of my energy and your time analyzing a lousy joke? Because comedy is too serious a matter to be taken lightly“!
Which is why I found this book worth a read!