Review: Shamsuddin’s Grave is a story told with lots of emotions and love. It is a story which deals with the plight of homeless people in the north east state of Assam. The story deals with people and their emotions and it is what caught my attention first which made me to read the book.
The story shows how caste and religion matters when it comes to extremely poor people and how are they used and abused by people with power in their hands. Shamsuddin is a person who has lost everything in floods and tries extremely hard to make ends meet. His only dream is to own a house and unite with his family. On the other hand, Latika is a woman with modern thoughts, battling her own setbacks. The two meet and a bond develops between them over time. A case of teenage rape victim comes across Latika and the NGO she works for and she is determined to solve the case and help the victim with Shamsuddin’s help.
The story feels real. It shows what is exactly happening in some interiors of our country. It depicts the sad state of affairs when it comes to homeless people. The two characters, Shamsuddin and Latika are poles apart when it comes to thinking and education, and they are nicely brought out. This contrasting characters is what made me hooked to the book. Also, I loved the ending. The simple narration hits hard at the right places and pinches you.
Although, the narration is good, it could have been tight. At times, I felt the lack of editing hamper a good narration and the story. Elimination of few typos, grammar and editing check could have helped the story, but it still is a wonderful one time read. I say one time because of the heaviness of the topic.
Overall: Shamsuddin’s Grave is a brave attempt by the author to put forth the plight of homeless people and the author succeeds at it.
Read an excerpt
Latika too woke up hearing the cries. She switched on her night lamp but there was no electricity. She stepped down from her bed and landed into knee deep water soaking her pyjamas. Terrified, she reached for the torch on the night table and switched it on. She was traumatized to find her room flooded. The water level almost reached her bed wetting the mattress. She didn’t waste time and waded through the water to check on her father’s room. It was similar situation there too, with the only difference that the old man was sound asleep due to medication. She woke him up and went to check the other rooms.
It was similar sight all around. Dining chairs, gas cylinder, utensils, tables everything floating across the rooms. She turned off all the switches and whatever valuables she could lay her hand upon, she collected in a bag. Then she pulled a chair on top of her father’s bed and made the old man sit on it with the bag. She checked the water level outside through the glass window with the hope of evacuating the house. But it was worse and riskier to wander out with an old man in flood water at night. She knew she could not make it.
Help was unreachable as of now, as everyone was fending for themselves. She heard the neighbors crying for help but no one listened. Even the cell phone network was jammed. She knew she could not do anything but wait. At last she pulled a chair on the bed and sat down beside her father clenching his hands in hers. Both prayed eagerly for all this to be over.