Recently, I stumbled upon a book ‘The Dawn at Dusk’ by Sandeep Nayyar. As the blurb indicated, it is a historical fiction and book’s protagonist is a victim of infidelity. I was more than eager to read this book. With full conviction, I embarked upon ‘The Dawn at Dusk’. Did it really live up to my expectations? Let us find out….
Story: ‘The Dawn at Dusk’ spans in 27 chapters and takes the readers to one of the riverside area of Narmada River in bygone post-Vedic era. The story starts at a crematorium and introduces a strong woman “Shatvari”, who is in pursuit of a “Yantra” to fight against a great civilization for a greater cause. Quite interesting! The book holds on to the suspense, about “the greater cause” and others, very well and slowly, other characters come into play. The writer has dabbled with too many characters with different shades. Though it is a story of post-Vedic age, still I could find those characters so relatable with “well knowns” of today’s times. Kudos to the writer! The narrative runs mostly chronological and occasional flashbacks give the story a beautiful swinging flow. The author has made conscious efforts in producing pulsating sex, careful enough not to make it a sordid literature. In second chapter, the description is so vivid and animated that I could feel my physical presence there. That was amazing!
Characters: “Shatvari” is the main protagonist of the story and her character is so real with lots of grey shades. Damodar is her husband who fell for another woman. She said to Damodar that their kid would choose whether he wants to be with you or not…and strangely, she never told their son about his father. Moreover, as a reader I was expecting more insightful take on infidelity issue rather than the same old saga. In author’s attempt to validate and respect the institution of marriage, Damodar’s character suffered injustice and ignorance. There are so many characters in the book and my favorite character is Gunjan. Sandeep portrayed the character with sheer honesty. Gunjan is a shudra who yearns to have knowledge of Holy Scriptures and is a great musician. Shatrughana is also an adorable character. Story has representative from all the classes of ‘varn-vyavastha’. All the female characters of the story are lovely, gorgeous, courageous and little arrogant. Sandeep very well validates their arrogance. Overall, it feels as if author has created a fiction with real life characters. This resemblance of characters is the biggest charm of the book.
Coming to language, after reading initial three chapters, I was contemplating if I made a right choice. Writer has written the same story in Hindi named ‘समरसिद्धा’. Had it been better if I would have ordered the Hindi version? I missed a potent language and it was exasperating to read the word-to-word translation of sentences from Hindi to English. I would have closed the book right there had the story line not intrigued me enough. Several times, I found grammatical mistakes and missed emphatic language and skillful editing. After first four chapters, slowly and steadily, it cruises well and I started loving the narrative.
‘The Dawn at Dusk’ by Sandeep Nayyar is an impressive English debut. Read it if you can enjoy a sociopolitical plot with love sprinkling and you are curious to know about historical setup and can compromise on language part. For me, the book’s charm lies in its characters. Story line is also very good and entanglement of characters is awesome. I loved reading it and I am waiting for Sandeep Nayyar’s next offering. Finally, I would leave you with the most beautiful lines from the book. These lines will stay with me forever….
“Don’t tax your mind trying to understand the cause of every single wave rising in this vast ocean of awareness. Human mind is too small to grasp it. The only possible way is to transcend the limitation of mind and establish a deep connection with ocean itself. The mystery itself is the doorway to understanding.”