Book review of Ekarat by Ajay Khullar
Do you know which kinds of stories are the best? The ones inspired by real-life incidents are fiction with a realistic paradigm. Those are the ones I truly feel are worth getting lost in, basking in their essence, learning from those little wanderings and musings of life, and delving into their deeper meanings and perspectives. Ekarat, by Ajay Khullar, a pen-down of such experiences, having been published posthumously, are a reading experience of such a sort, leaving one with something unique.
Kabhi kabhi asli kahaani jaise purnaviraam mein jee uthti hai…
Indeed, such is the case with my latest read, Ekarat by Ajay Khullar, a book of short stories, some poems, and novellas that has captivated me with its beautiful style of writing, which shall make you smile with its witty profundity and impeccable sense of prose and surrealism. There is a daunting satire, a jibe of sorts, he takes at life in the narrative. Even when tragedy strikes in one of the novellas when he turns blind, he manages to convey it breezily, and yet you are entranced by the intensity and pain of it.
Yes, sometimes in life we wish to say so much. We want to share the wanderings of life, but we forget that many times we fail to do so. How many times have we stood back, paused, and mulled over a particular situation, taking away the significance behind its occurrence? And yet, as I look at Ekarat today, I couldn’t be prouder of the fact that the late Ajay Khullar has managed to seamlessly deliver all of these wanderings he witnessed in life to us in a permanent form through his writing.
Ekarat, which is the pen name of the Author Ajay Khullar, has been published posthumously by Brigadier Darshan Khullar, his father, who is a writer himself.
And yet, I have to commence here by telling you guys how Ajay’s style has been something so unique that I barely had eyes elsewhere once I began this one. Take the following, for instance:
There is a hope you were born with, and it’s going to stay. Hunger cannot starve it, pain cannot cause it to hurt, and the world cannot banish it. It’s the tattoo of the phoenix that you wear on your soul. When you enter the fire, it shall rise.
Yes, these words in the opening note themselves cast me under a spell like very few before. As I mentioned earlier, not all get a chance to share their thoughts and musings and redeem themselves in such a manner, and Ajay was one of those who went ahead with this. Indeed, Ekarat is a persona definitely separate from Ajay Khullar but also attached in some manner, as I could resonate with his thoughts and tiny wanderings, the stories and little novellas presented by him, and also the multiple hues he had tried to paint through each and every one of these.
There has been so much conveyed through the assimilation of these writings by Ajay that it is actually quite difficult to exactly pin-point which one I love the most and also which one I feel will resonate more with you guys. As well as the novellas, which, even though not complete, will surely find a place in your mind.
Having been subdivided into four parts, each diversely unique in its own setting, Yes, the sarcasm, the surreal resonance, and the wit were all palpable; almost in every wandering, he shared and explored themes of love, mental trauma, grief, and much more, amidst a backdrop of military background. A revelation of sorts, this one was actually a two-way mirror, plunging the reader into a realisation of what we humans actually are and how we deal with situations in life.
When I found out that these were tales written with a tonality of fiction by him in response to his experiences of life, I marvelled at how he managed to scourge so much and assimilate it so brilliantly through this one. Even though some of it was not completed, there was still a lot of closure, for me at least, to the narratives since what I appreciated was his impeccable description of the situation at hand, with meticulous attention given by him to each and every character he drew. It actually felt to me that he perhaps had simply been waiting all his life to take control of this exercise and be able to come forth and write out his thoughts, presenting his ideas to the rest of the world.
Do you know what struck me the most? The fact that he has created all of these is testimony to life in this fashion. I actually felt that these were real-life narratives he had been a part of until I found out and discovered that some of them were actually pieces of fiction created by him.
There was this story that portrayed betrayal in the garb of love for the loved one, and the manner in which he has elucidated the whole scenario, the way in which it shows how things eventually transpire, and the slapstick form in which it was implied was so unnerving that they initially made me breathless. Take, for instance, ‘Jesus Loves All.’ Well, there was so much more to it than one could possibly have fathomed. Isa and Tanya’s tale was much deeper than it initially appeared on the face and in the satire, and the sarcasm was hard-hitting, coy, and subtle yet strong enough to create a lasting impression.
There was this story, ‘Dancing in the Dark,’ the love story of Victor, which revolves around love, betrayal, grief, and obsession. Having fallen in love with a married woman, which culminates in an obsession, eventually brings out another side of Victor and shows the interplay of love, betrayal, and grief, all assimilated in this hard-hitting tale. It was actually a bit insightful, as Ajay, in spite of not being able to catch up fully towards the end, made it evident that his musings came forth brilliantly. How love can unhook and derange the best of us after a point in time has been brilliantly explained by Ajay in this one.
There was also ‘Fattu,’ which gave me goosebumps. Yes, try as you might, you cannot hide from yourself. That moment when you might eventually have to face yourself in the mirror is going to be a benchmark of sorts, giving you a rendezvous with your inner conscience. Try as much as you may, you cannot hide from your own inner self. The manner in which the Major, coward though he was, had to come to terms—a full circle of sorts—with facing what he had been averting for always Worrying that he might have to face tough scenarios when he eventually does was a cathartic experience in itself. One has to fight their demons eventually, come what may.
Storm Within, another gem, is a journey within, narrating the story of those who fight their inner battles. Sometimes, your biggest nemesis lives and fuels itself inside you. We, being the creators of Frankenstein, have got to accept and fight this internal enemy first before getting down to anything else.
A brilliant assimilation, this is a beautifully indulgent read, and the only flipside I have to this one is that it kind of got over too soon for me. I wish I could have access to some more tales written by him.
So, I hope you guys liked my thoughts on this one. Stay tuned with us right here at Booxoul for the best in the fields of entertainment, travel, lifestyle, fun, finance, fashion, education, tech, and gadgets, as well as all things bookish.
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