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Bonding in Translation

Sukrita Paul Kumar

By Nanak Singh
Harper Perennial, New Delhi, India, 2012, pp. 273, Rs.299.00


In the foreword to his novel A Life Incomplete the legendary Punjabi author Nanak Singh narrates the story of the very conception of his novel and interestingly, he calls the foreword ‘More Fact than Foreword’. To me this story is actually a masterstroke of the story teller’s fictional strategy: it sets a perspective in the reader’s mind, even before starting the novel, clearly indicating that what is to follow as fiction is actually a real story. We are told that the writer has just about chronicled the experiences of another as narrated to him! And what is more, the writer himself had earlier started to write a novel by the same title as the one given to him now, Adh Khidya Phul (A flower, not fully blossomed). In fact he leaves one bewildered about the coincidence, though the way he narrates this fact, it appears to be a very natural and inevitable phenomenon! Nanak Singh was obviously a seasoned writer when he wrote this novel. The first sentence of the novel is: ‘May 1922.’ This is factual information which too serves as strategy to the same end. Also, it immediately offers the somewhat historical context of India and the freedom struggle; the focus then zooms onto the life of Kuldeep, the leading character of the story, who is in prison and is soon to be released. What has sustained him is the dream of reunion with his beautiful wife. Ironically, after he is freed from the jail, his cherished world falls asunder when he finds that his wife is no more. The reader gets involved in the highly personal tale of love and pain as the novel proceeds. The plot of the story moves on, introducing more characters, friendships and relationships as well as memories of the past with its interplay with the present. One of the distinctive features of the story is its well rounded characters carved out skillfully by the author. Apart from Kuldeep, the protagonist, there is the evolving personality of Saroj who has held on to her love for Kuldeep till the end, through a number of emotional trials. Waryam Singh is a world unto himself, a loner who is busy serving the needy, the helpless and the destitute. But he is also someone who has a strong emotional self, guarded and restrained so well; this is evidenced specially when confronted with Saroj’s response ...

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