Friday, May 20, 2016

Book Review : False Ceilings.

Shakuntala's life is the base of this tale. Shakuntala is the convent educated  daughter of Kanshi Ram, who builds houses for the British, in pre independent India.Shakuntala is a riches to rag story.She gets married to a lad ,who loves her. She falls for him .Shakuntala is gifted cupboards on her marriage. Only she knows that one of the cupboards has a secret storage. She has something in that space.  Past marriage, love turns sour.

Shakuntala's son falls for a girl who according to his mother is neither of their stature nor caste. And yet, allows him to marry her. Life goes downhill past wedding .Shakuntala makes sure, that the girl feels harassed all the time. Shakuntala's grandson,Aaryan becomes an alien to all & everything.His sister knows that grandmother has been most unkind to her mother. Her son stumbles upon the secret compartment of his great grandmother .He feels amazed as also shocked. Why ? What is the secret, which was known to atleast one person in each generation & never shared with others ? Would it have made their lives different, from how it all turned out to be ? And would that be better or worse off ,than it already was ? And why ?

Was there no affection , concern , love or respect amongst the family members ? And if there was , then, why it never showed up ? Perhaps, it  was love, that made Shakuntala marry that lad who kept staring at her.And again ,it was love that made Shakuntala's son pine for that girl whom he married.And yet ,that love hardly sustained.It turned into something else, post marriage. True, there was pro creation & yet beyond that, there was just tolerance , not love or affection.

The story is set in Dalhousie.Dalhousie is  described so beautifully that the reader wants it on the travel itinerary.It has humour -The women entered a tear shedding competition after the wedding was over ." Typical Indian parenting as regards painting ," It is  fine as a hobby but not a career ." 

The youngster rebelling against marriage ," Am I supposed to sacrifice the rest of my life to keep my parents happy ? " Parents responding ," Why not ? ......What is  so wrong in sacrificing  a bit for us & that too for your own pleasure ? " The young rebel nailing it "I could never understand this  emotional sword of sacrifice which parents hold to cut open their child's right to make his own decisions. No parents give any sacrifice to bring their children in the world, far from it.They were having fun when the child was conceived.Remember ? And once a child is in this world, it's the moral responsibility of the parent to feed him & keep him alive......"

The riots & disturbances are narrated in a manner which makes them look  so futile & humans   look cruel & heartless.And  perhaps, we all harbour secrets amongst ourselves just like  the secret compartment in that cupboard & that too for no reasons.

A deserving read indeed.



Born in the lush mountains of Dalhousie in 1930, Shakuntala is a pampered child of a wealthy builder. On her wedding night she is gifted a secret to use wisely when the time comes. 

From the green valleys of Dalhousie to a village in Punjab reeling under the communal violence of 1947; from the Delhi of 1950s with its intoxicating smell of freedom to the Delhi of 1970s soaked in the hippie culture; from the Delhi of 1984 smelling of burnt tyres to the Delhi of 90s raising its Frankenstein of urbanization, the cancerous secret breathes with her, infects her. It is accidentally passed down, hidden under insecurities and jealousies, locked in its meaninglessness and leaving a trail of ruin. 

When her great- grandson accidentally discovers the secret in 2065, he is perplexed by the malice that flowed in his family's blood. Was it just the secret or his family would have destroyed itself even in its absence? Why was their love never greater than their unsaid expectations from each other? 

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Amit Sharma

Amit Sharma's first fiction book titled False Ceilings has been published by Lifi Publications. The book launch happened on 12 Jan 2016 in the World Book Fair in Delhi. 

Amit has been working in a Software Firm since the last ten years. He lives with his family in NCR. His wife is a teacher and they are blessed with a daughter who is in her terrible twos. 

Amit always keeps a book and a portable reading light in his bag (much to the amusement of his fellow travelers). His other hobbies include watching world cinema, travelling, digging into various cuisines, cooking, listening to music, painting, blogging, making his daughter laugh and helping his wife with her unnecessary and prolonged shopping.

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