War Accelerated Liberalization.
This novel deals with the changes in traditions and lifestyles of a conservative society of Devipur, by focusing on the lives of students Mita, Sailaja, Jahnavi, Tridev, Lokesh and Niranjan and residents Vedavyas, Ashutosh, Sajjanlal and others of Devipur. All kinds of differences come up for close scrutiny at the time of marriage.
Because of the misdeeds of the vice-chancellor and the autocratic ways of the principal, the National Engineering College of Devipur degenerated. The college was restored to the path of progress by the determined efforts of Professor Goraknadh who staked his life in that endeavor.
Vedavyas arranged for a customary pre-marital visit of the bride groom Mukhesh and his father Ambareesh to Goraknadh’s house for a meeting with his daughter and bride, Jahnavi. The groom misbehaved and left abruptly; Vedavyas learnt that the groom heard rumors that she was in love with a Harijan. Actually his allegation put ideas into her head and she began loving him.
Construction of vedavyas’ house began and he went to look at the progress of work. During excavation for the foundation a Shiv Ling surfaced; a temporary shelter was constructed for it immediately which served as a Shiv temple. He became involved with the temple; it accentuated religious fervor among people.
Sailaja and Niranjan loved each other. His father Ashutosh was running a nursing home exclusively for Brahmins; her father Vinayak came from an adjacent state and was more conservative. Lovers knew that they can’t obtain the consent of at least one family for their marriage and voluntarily gave up the idea of marriage. Vinayak arranged her marriage with Tripurantak but permitted her to invite all her friends for the wedding, which was unusual in their community.
War suddenly erupted between Pakistan and India, one day before Sailaja’s marriage. Because there was no discrimination based on caste or religion in the army, Lokesh wanted to join the services after graduation; he told his friends that he decided to join the army the very next day and did so. Tridev convinced his parents and joined the next day. Niranjan returned to his college, joined the army and then informed his parents. All the three were sent to the forward areas..
Devipur and the neighborhood suffered the consequences of war; Omkar completed his medical degree and joined his father. He wanted to enlarge the nursing home and advertised for a helper. Bharatram came to seek the job; he worked as a nurse cum compounder at Dr.Brahmanand’s nursing home at Sitapur; he lost his job because the doctor was killed in Pakistan bombing. Although he was qualified, Ashutosh refused to give him the job because he was a Harijan. He was tired of trying and failing to get a job. He tried to commit suicide by running into a speeding car; he failed, got wounded and was taken to the nearest hospital which happened to be Ashutosh’s nursing home. Now the doctor had a change of heart; he not only treated Bharatram but also gave him the job. Jahnavi felt an urge to do some useful service and joined Ashutosh nursing home as a nurse to work during her free time and during the vacation.
Sajjanlal started coming to the temple by walk early in the morning and to perform services for God Shiv; his health improved. Bharatram and his father Sadhuram had been searching for each other for some weeks; they met at the provisional temple for Shiv Ling; all these were attributed to the grace of Shiv. Sadhuram wanted to get Bharatram married to Gouri but he refused to get married till at least one of Ashutosh’s problems was resolved
Bholaram, father of Lokesh, took the letter he received to Radharaman who also received a similar letter. The letters informed them that Lokesh and Tridev who were sent on a mission, did not return. Bholaram could not suppress his sorrow and slipped as he stepped out; he was admitted to Ashutosh nursing home.
Ashutosh received a letter that Niranjan left the camp but did not return. Ashutosh buried the letter and its contents deep within himself.
Bharatram convinced both sides for the marriage between Lucy and Omkar. First they were married according to Christian rites and later according to the Hindu rites at the temple.
The war ended as suddenly as it began. Lokesh and Tridev returned soon after the war and related how they were wounded and how a Muslim Lady doctor treated them and returned them to the Indian Army Camp. In 1947 when the doctor’s family was migrating to Pakistan, an orthodox Brahmin protected them, gave them shelter and treated them as honored guests for three days; that gesture changed the lives and attitudes of the Muslim family and they began helping people in need, irrespective of their religion or nationality. Their story profoundly influenced the residents of Devipur.
There was no news about Niranjan and there was no means of getting any; his parents felt miserable. Ashutosh became depressed and because Lucy was also assisting in running the nursing home, he gave up active practice.
Niranjan was taken a war prisoner and was selected to be returned to India under an Indo-Pak agreement for exchange of some prisoners. At the last minute someone else was smuggled in his place and he was thrown out to die; his parents who went to receive him had to return dejected.
A Muslim school teacher saved Niranjan, nursed him to health and married him. Later, he wrote a cryptic letter to Ashutosh indicating how they can be retrieved and brought to Devipur. Ashutosh’s wife Sarvani deciphers the letter and they succeed in bringing the couple to Devipur with the help of a Collector from each side of the border. The couple was married at the Temple of Shivji according to Hindu rites. All couples new and old joined in the merriment.
Published: 2 September 2016
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