The Story of My Assassins by Tarun Tejpal
I was really impressed by the ‘Alchemy of Desire’ by Tarun, which I read a few months back, the number of elements and the layers that it spoke in was just amazing. Obviously, I started reading this book with some bit of expectations. I am not sure if I can say that he lived up to the expectations, but there is whole new world or underworld that you would learn about through this book. The underbelly of India that exists in various regions and can come together for their missions and work seamlessly like a team that many in the corporate world spend fortunes building up
Story revolves around an attempted murder of the protagonist, who happens to be a famous journalist living in Delhi, who can very well be Tarun himself. It moves back and forth between the story of the each person suspected for the attempt and protagonist’s own story. Each story talks about a life, born somewhere in the interiors of the country, Haryana, Punjab, UP, Bihar, North East, and how their life paths lead them to reach where they are. Each has a shocking story of how from the childhood either they were influenced or lead by circumstances to become hardened killers, identified and groomed by professional criminals and their network to be used as pawns at the right time and place. Each story is of a marginalized person, who has no other option but to get attracted to an option which does not demand as much as it promises to give back. First few stories are really interesting; in the stories mentioned later in the book you tend to loose interest as they become predictable, though the author has made sure that stories are strikingly different.What I found absolutely disgusting was the treatment of women in the book. In the protagonist’s story, his wife, mother, mother-in-law, girlfriend / mistress, maid servant, all of them seem to be available to him only to be abused, as if they all need him and he needs none of them. In the story of each of the criminals who are his suspected assassins, the women in their lives are available only to be raped, ill treated and someone who just tag along with the men folk and are available be bear the brunt of their wanderings and deeds. Not a single woman in the whole story is respected by anyone. May be this is true for lot of women, but this is not the whole truth in the so called ‘real world’ as well.
There is a parallel take on the police and religious babas or gurjis who actually drive the story, are never suspected, most of the times remain in the background. Overall a very cynical story, but told in a very interesting way. Tarun is a good story teller, and can make you visualize the places and characters and you almost feel you are there witnessing the whole scenes and feeling all the emotions. He must be an intense person himself to be able to describe everything with a lot of intensity and making the reader feel the heat of it.
This story left me wanting more layers and more angles, but nonetheless, it is still a story that will keep you gripped till the end. You want to know how all the stories will converge.
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