Set in the backdrop of India’s birth as an independent Nation – Ashwin Sanghi’s The Sialkot Saga is a story to be reckoned.
The narrative starts with a description of that infamous train that traveled all the way from the newly found Pakistan to the newly found India, carrying nothing but dead bodies and equally murdered dreams. This story is about two men who come of age as does India. They grow in the same city, yet remain completely unaware of the destiny that is going to bind them together and make them acquaintances forever.
While one grows up in the poverty ridden streets of Kolkata, the other grows up in a nourishing environment and a fulfilling childhood. While one falls in the shadow of crime, the other becomes a successful businessman. Their religions are different and so is their journey but as we soon find out, the destination need not be different.
Ashwin Sanghi brings an element of history in the story and connects the dots from the 6th century to the characters of the 20th. As the book travels through time, we learn of ancient secrets and wisdom that have been passed forward from centuries to centuries and from one learned man to another. Sanghi brings the past to the future – in the most mystical way ever.
Ashwin Sanghi’s portrayal of India is at it’s authentic best in the book. I especially admire the way he weaves in Indian eccentricities into his prose effortlessly. He tells the tale of the non fiction in the most fictional way possible – so much so that you’ll actually believe that the saga of Bollywood Heroines romancing the Underworld, or the struggle of our nation to come united, or the story of King Ashoka and his nine trusted men only exist to be a part of his prose.
Read the book for the portrayal of a young India only learning about youth; for the street smart protagonists who are as full of flaws as me and you. Read the book to satisfy that quest for fantasy within you. The Sialkot Saga is that one book you shouldn’t miss out on; it’s the one book that will leave an impact on you after you’ve long kept it away.