Book Review: Vibhor Tikiya’s new book is about jest to Live after sexual assault; a comment on the brazen power of our politics, on the inertia of our legal system & on the general ‘Chalta hai’ attitude of us.
December 16, 2012 shook India and the collective conscience of the country for what happened in the National Capital. The last words of the victim in the Nirbhya sexual assault case were, “I WANT TO LIVE”. Vibhor Tikiya takes off from there to build a story around a sexual assault and the aftermath. Incidentally, I got to read the novel exactly 4 years since the humongous tragedy, on December 16, 2016.
Vibhor Tikiya’s journey as a writer started with the campus story DADA. He switched over to an intense novel like ONCE UPON A DHARMAYUDH for his second. AN EYE for AN EYE MY LOVE, I want to LIVE is his third and he has taken a new genre this time. This is a love story yet the LOVE isn’t the theme. This is a revenge story but the revenge isn’t the theme. It’s more of an attack over our system, on the brazen power of our politics, on the inertia of our legal system and on the general ‘Chalta hai’ attitude of us, the people of India.
Dhruv, a vagabond from India is a scarred soul eternally mourning for his wronged mother. He’s perpetually on the run till he meets Aisha in Paris, the city of Love. Several dates later, Aisha changes his attitude towards relationships and before he could understand, he is in love. But when he comes face to face with love, his escapist nature prevails over him and stops him from uttering those three magical words. Aisha goes missing and Dhruv comes to India in search of the only woman he loved. He finds her fighting death in an Intensive Care on ventilator support. Her last words, written on a piece of paper were, “Dhruv I want to LIVE”.
Dhruv finds a reason to live as he goes through the ordeal of the court case that ends with the conviction of a serial offender called Bheem. At the end of the case, he believes natural justice has prevailed. But an encounter with a mysterious person called Aryan and a pendrive change the course of life for him. The rest of the story is a thriller with justice being delivered in what the author believes the only way it can be done in this country.
There is lust, there is wander lust, there is love and there is wine. There is philosophy and there are mothers. The story has several mothers who suffered and a could have been mother who was ravaged and killed. There are court proceedings, there is politics, there is deceit and vengeance. And Vibhor Tikiya wraps it all in 174 pages and it is the brevity that makes it a winner.
Justice can’t always be achieved by law. There is a bit of Che Guevara in it and a lot of French wine that has matured. There is a swindler who acts a guide and a retired Major with his own mission. There is a father shattered by his daughter’s tragedy and there are activists who do not know their cause. There is a corrupt system and a lawyer who knows his client is innocent in this case. There is a gay bar and an inexplicable chase. There is training and there is a target. There is an aim and then a pretty much aimless life finds a goal. In the end, there is poetic justice and some surprise.
Vibhor Tikiya keeps it simple and his simple language is his strength. Without the burden to be heavy on vocabulary, he evolves into a good story-teller in his third novel and his most passionate work yet. It does lag a bit in pace in the early stages, especially during the Paris phase. But it gathers momentum to race towards a climax with poetic justice. But we learn, the poetic justice was in fact political justice. The growing maturity of the writer shines in his characters getting more real with their weaknesses, fallibility and vulnerability. The climax was predictable and I did predict it very early. In spite of that, An Eye for an Eye is an engaging read and is worth our time.
The book is dedicated to the author’s mother and two little nieces with a fond hope of finding them grow up to live in an India that will be a lot safer for them. That is pretty much the wish every human being is making these days.
AN EYE for AN EYE MY LOVE, I want to LIVE
Author: VIBHOR TIKIYA
Published by: Srishti Publishers & Distributors in 2017
New Delhi 110019
Price: Rs. 195/-