1984 is considered one of the darkest years of India’s post-independence era. The erstwhile Prime Minsiter Mrs Indira Gandhi was shot dead by her security guards who sought revenge for Operation Blue Star. Thousands of Sikhs were brutally murdered in the communal riots that erupted as an aftermath in Northern parts of the country. Property was ravaged and people were torturously killed to avenge the death of the PM. Sikhs who were forced to leave their homes still shudder at the memories of the painful past when they had lost everything overnight.
Vikram Kapur’s novel, The Assassinations, is a touching tale of love shattered by the communal turbulence. Based in Delhi, the story revolves around Prem and Deepa, the young lovers who dream of their future together as their parents agree to marry them irrespective of their regional differences. But as the city confronts the repercussions of PM’s assassination by her Sikh security guards, the future suddenly seems bleak for the families looking forward to embracing each other. The Sikhs are being targeted openly and brutally. Men, women, children -nobody is spared. The roads of the capital are lined by the remains of charred bodies and ravaged properties.
While the rest of the family members struggle to fathom the upheaval around them, Prem is caught in a vortex of emotional turmoil. When he encounters a violent mob and ends up badly beaten, he is pulled down further in this tornado and starts thinking of revenge. What comes out of this revenge destroys the lives of these two families and leaves them with pain to last a lifetime.
I finished this novel in one sitting. The characters and the story felt very real. Though the story is fictional, one could easily imagine a Prem and a Deepa somewhere in Delhi caught in those tumultuous times. The author beautifully portrays the predicaments and helplessness of the parents through his words. The story flows smoothly and takes you with it to imagine the plight of innocent lives that paid a heavy price of revenge and remorse. This is not a light read and author has described the brutality very vividly. It might disturb some readers but it is certainly essential to bring out the desired emotions in the story. After all, the image of men becoming monsters is never an easy one to visualize.
About the Author: Vikram Kapur is a writer from New Delhi. Sometime in his mid-twenties the poetry of William Butler Yeats rocked his world.Holding on to a steady job and living a routine life while clamping down hard on literary ambition each time it reared its head. By his mid-thirties, however, he could fight the bug no longer. One day he simply put pen to paper and wrote a passage that became the beginning of his first novel Time Is a Fire. Since then, Vikram has published another novel The Wages of Life and an edited anthology on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in India called 1984: In Memory and Imagination. He has also published short fiction and nonfiction in anthologies, newspapers and several literary publications around the world. His short fiction has been broadcast internationally on radio and shortlisted in a number of international short story competitions including, among others, the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. Vikram has a PhD in creative and critical writing from the University of East Anglia where he substantially raised the average age of his graduating class as a forty-something student. When he is not writing, he is an associate professor of English at Shiv Nadar University near New Delhi. (Source: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/831872.Vikram_Kapur)
I received a free copy of this book from WritersMelon in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.