Thanks to Juggernaut books, I read ‘HALF THE NIGHT IS GONE’ by Amitabha Bagchi. A beautiful story of loyalty, love, hate, innocence, relationship, compassion and betrayal across three generations. I must say it’s been too long since I read a novel that completely engrossed me with clever parallel storylines across past and present.
The story is a response of Vishwanath, a celebrated Hindi Novelists who comes from a lineage of cooks. He is writing letters exploring his love, pain and remorse. Between the letters, there is this old Delhi world. A world of aspiration of Mange lal, a wrestler turned cook and his son Parasadi. Along with runs the highly exciting track through generations of Lala Motichand family. Lala is a typical merchant in Delhi. He has three sons. Dinanath, he is the heir apparent. Diwanchand is the poet. And beyond the bounds of legitimacy his son Makhan Lal.
The novelist in Vishwanath uses this timeline of an opportunity of generations set in Delhi to describe India transition from British to Independence.
There are women in Bagchi storyline. They are not mere props. They have a mind of their own. They are smart and know how to control the men in the house. They are vicious. They are caring. Moreover, each one is willing to do things to protect their turf.
Amitabha Bagchi the author brilliantly weaves Ramcharitmans in the storyline through Diwanchand, poetic lonely son of Lala Motichand. Understandably, many characters borrow their traits from known characters of Ramcharitmanas.
There is no letting of pace at any stage as you are drawn deep into the lives of many distinct characters.
Bagchi touches social issues mirrored in the lives of his characters. Though he stops short of making a poignant commentary on the subject, character and time. Never a character is too polarised in views or actions. They are always reproachable. They have two sides of the value system. They react as per the demand of the situation. They are very human and full of real life.
Go ahead and like a voyeur get into family matters of Lala Motichand and Mange Lal. It is worth a show.