Thursday, August 11, 2016

Book Review : Shamsuddin's Grave.

Paromita Goswami's debut novel is empathetic .It has pathos .It depicts the sheer helplessness of millions of poor in our country, who migrate to cities for a better life & how.

Shamsuddin is a farmer who has become landless.He is in rural Assam. He goes to Guwahati to earn a living.  He only  manages to survive .When he returns home after a long gap , he realises that his family is lost. He grieves & yet returns to Guwahati. He keeps moving from place to place .He is unable to have a place to call home. He is taken in, to look after cattle by Snehlata.He does odd jobs for Snehlata & stays in the barn with the cattle. Snehlata's niece Latika gifts a cycle rickshaw to Shamsuddin who is overjoyed that someone cares for him. In fact, both Snehlata & Latika care for him.

The downtrodden will return favours more than they receive .This is brought out, so clearly in the book .Shamsuddin carries supplies for Latika's NGO in the cycle rikshaw. Latika is too bold & active in volunteer work in the slums, to the utter discomfort of  her boss, Debjyoti. Is Debjyoti being cautious or is it love ? What about Latika ? Can she forget her painful past & accept what today offers ? Latika meets a daughter- mother duo in course of her work.She wants to help & the mother daughter duo couldn't care  less.They disappear .Is Latika able to help them ?

Shamsuddin meets his daughter & her family by accident. He makes home with them.Floods ravage his home. What happens to his daughter & family ? Does Shamsuddin survive ? Does the Government compensation for flood victims bring any relief to Shamsuddin  ? What about Latika & hers social work ?

The climax is sarcastic & makes one wonder, if one can claim any space as one's own ?

The story is a saga of the poor who do not know about their rights. They are so busy surviving that they cannot think of anything except making both ends meet.And this fight for survival gets repeated in the next world as well !

The tale gives a glimpse into the Bangladeshi illegal migrants issue which continues to make headlines in North East India.It narrates the beauty of Shillong & the might of the Brahmaputra which causes misery year after year . It showcases the strength & grit of the people of Assam who are so much like the people of  the rest of India. Reading the book is a must read , to understand the condition of the poor & their flight for a better life.



Latika's wrecked personal front leaves her completely shattered. So when her ailing father reveals his desire to go back home, she doesn't think twice and moves to her hometown. She joins an NGO and comes across a teenager rape victim. Much against her TL, Debjyoti's wish she sets out to trace the girl with Shamsuddin's help. Will she succeed or end up in big trouble?

Shamsuddin, a daily labourer, somehow manages to thrive in the city. Meanwhile, flood devastates his house in the village. His family takes refuge in a relative's place where his wife has a tough time resisting to the advances of her brother-in-law. Can Shamsuddin arrange for an accommodation before it is too late? 

Set in Guwahati amid the backdrop of flood and ethnic turmoil, "Shamsuddin's Grave", is the story of migration towards big cities for a better life.

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Read an excerpt

It was 2.00 a.m. in the morning and Kalapahar woke up to the cries of people. People didn’t know what was going on. There was no electricity and all they heard were the cries of women, children and men for help. Stampede of people running across the roads towards the uphill area shouting for help. 
 Latika too woke up hearing the cries. She switched on her night lamp but there was no electricity. She stepped down from her bed and landed into knee deep water soaking her pyjamas. Terrified, she reached for the torch on the night table and switched it on. She was traumatized to find her room flooded. The water level almost reached her bed wetting the mattress. She didn’t waste time and waded through the water to check on her father’s room. It was similar situation there too, with the only difference that the old man was sound asleep due to medication. She woke him up and went to check the other rooms. 
It was similar sight all around. Dining chairs, gas cylinder, utensils, tables everything floating across the rooms. She turned off all the switches and whatever valuables she could lay her hand upon, she collected in a bag. Then she pulled a chair on top of her father’s bed and made the old man sit on it with the bag. She checked the water level outside through the glass window with the hope of evacuating the house. But it was worse and riskier to wander out with an old man in flood water at night. She knew she could not make it. 
Help was unreachable as of now, as everyone was fending for themselves. She heard the neighbors crying for help but no one listened. Even the cell phone network was jammed. She knew she could not do anything but wait. At last she pulled a chair on the bed and sat down beside her father clenching his hands in hers. Both prayed eagerly for all this to be over. 

About the author

Paromita Goswami

A nomad at heart and a rebel by choice is the best way to describe her. Paromita Goswami had always believed in making her own path. She says life is full of stories that are waiting to be told. 

Author of Shamsuddin’s Grave, published in 2015, an offbeat social drama based on critical social issue, Paromita Goswami loves to write about life and relationships. She has written many short stories for online magazines. Her upcoming works are, Grow Up Messy, is a humorous collection of short stories of a mischievous five year old girl. The book is a ride down the childhood days.  It was part of blogging challenge, #atozchallenge2016 and second is The Jungle Series, a collection of short stories #paranormal, based on the jungles of Chhattisgarh.

Besides writing she is also the founder of Raipur Little Minds Book Reading Club that has a major objective of developing the book reading habit in children. She is also the founder of Book Studios that makes book trailer, book covers and banners. Making travel documentary is her other passion.

Paromita is married and lives in Raipur with her family including her pet cat and dogs.  She loves to connect with her readers and can be easily traced on all social media sites.

You can stalk her @


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Paromita Goswami said...

Thank you so much for your honest review.
Your words are really very encouraging
Keep up your good work.

Vasudha Rao said...

Thank you, Paromita !

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