The Anatomy of Scars written by Arjun Raj Gaind is a work of fiction based on real events surrounding the Operation Blue Star, the 1984 riots and their impact on Punjab and mainly the Sikh community.
THIS BOOK IS NOT TO BE READ ONCE. Well, now that I have garnered your attention… let me tell you why. This book is to be read and re-read again and again, till Nana’s pain sears your heart and eyes; till Nani’s strength and loss makes you weep unabashed, unashamed; till you sigh in relief and yet shed tears as Himmat finally finds what he had been searching for his entire life.
And then you will know, this book is to be treasured.
The story begins in Amritsar, Punjab, where Himmat is enjoying his summer break with his maternal grandparents (Nana and Nani). His enthusiasm and innocence sprinkles joyfully, as his candid remarks and antiques make one chuckle and ponder at his thought process at the same time.
‘I was just eight years old at the time, but for some inexplicable reason, there was nothing more important to me than having a beard like my grandfather’s.’
In the eyes of the 8-year-old Himmat, his Nana is a hero. Himmat looks up to his Nana and his sparkly silver mane with great pride and admiration. Alas, certain events shatter this hero worship, and sow the seeds of an estrangement which push Himmat onto a thorny path laden with guilt, doubt and hatred towards his Nana and his own identity as an Indian, as a Punjabi.
It’s 1984, and a wave of hatred and terror reaches the soils of Punjab sooner than anyone imagines and clutches the people in its vicious grip, reminding them of a similar wave from a few decades ago, yes, of the partition. Fast forward to 2014, and a 20-year-old Himmat starts afresh in London, or rather tries to. The connections from his past which he wants to sever never leave his side. The hatred and rage seething within him clutch him in their cancerous grip, leaving him angry and confused.
‘I was a nobody, a man without a country, without history, a refugee in the truest sense of the word.
A refugee from my past.
A refugee from myself.’
He seeks solace in alcohol, hoping to forget the past, and yet all he receives is an emptiness. A sorrowful melancholy surrounds his every waking moment as he struggles to make friends, or maintain relationships. He dwindles on life’s paths until the day a phone call from his mother takes him back to his motherland, to Punjab, to Nana–all the places and people he wished to run away from, forever.
‘Tell me, have you forgiven me yet?’
‘Why do you hate me so much, puttar? What did I ever do to you that was so unforgivable?’
Nana’s questions irk him, but discovering the answer brings with it an unknown, unexperienced emptiness and the realization of what it takes to be a man.
Sharing a poignant quote from The Anatomy of Scars; a statement deep and true to core.
‘That is the thing about hatred, puttar. In the end, all it begets is more hatred, no matter how noble the cause.’
Arjun Raj Gaind weaves the pain, suffering, fear and trauma effortlessly, and yet the effect is gripping and unsettling.
Wordsopedia Rating 4.5/5
|Title: The Anatomy of Scars||Author: Arjun Raj Gaind|
|Publisher: Amazon||Publication date: January 26, 2021|
|Genre: Fiction||Format: Ebook|
|ASIN: B08R9MF4X9||No. of Pages: 206|
About the Author
Arjun Raj Gaind is the author of the critically acclaimed historical mystery series, The Maharaja Mysteries, which are set against the picturesque backdrop of princely India during the heyday of the British Raj. Get in touch with the author at Facebook
Thank you Himalayan Book Club for the ARC.