Book: Whisper of the Worms
Cover price: Rs 240
Rating: 4 out of 5
Review: Most of the books which are written by the current crop of Indian authors revolve around the so-called ‘chic lit’ genre. But there is a banality to them since an overdose of saccharine can often lead to gastronomical troubles. In the wake of the declining standards of Indian writing, ‘Whisper of the Worms’ comes as a reprieve. The author Marcardian is not just intelligent with an excellent command over writing but possesses deep insightful eyes that brilliantly amalgamate the world of reality and fiction. Though the book is a piece of fiction with fictional characters set in a fictional Asian country called Marcardia, the author has borrowed everything from reality, thus blurring the line of difference between the two.
‘Whisper of the Worms’ has freshness written all over it. The story is a far cry from chic-lit romances and is a poignant tale of a cancer patient who, during the final days of his life, faces harassment from investigating bureaus for corporate criminal proceedings he has not done.
The story is an eye-opener into the world of banking where our protagonist Thobias Mathai used to work 20 years back. Now, settled in USA with his wife and grown-up children, he discovers that he is battling an incurable form of lung cancer and has got barely 6 months in hand. Though he gets shattered from within, he conceals his ailment from his family members and takes a final flight back to India to breathe his last amongst the reminiscences of his childhood.
Returning to his roots and to his aged mother after 2 decades does evoke its share of nostalgia. So, the initial pages of the book take us through the happy past as Thobias recalls to mind flashes of his treasured memories.
But his happy past soon gets eclipsed by his unhappy present once he starts getting hounded by authorities and is charged with white collar crimes of grievous nature. Thereafter, the reader is taken on a roller coaster ride wherein he is grilled by authorities and harassed unjustly. Most of the story is in flashback mode as he narrates his years spent in Smile Bank and the many nefarious elements involved with the bank.
In Marcardia, readers can sense India, and amongst Macardians, readers can see Indians. A reader often finds a perverse pleasure when someone else throws open a cupboard which is full of skeletons everyone knew existed but nobody dared to speak of them.
The narration is beautiful, since our protagonist Thobias Mathai is a simple, truthful and innocent person, untouched and uninfluenced by the corruption around him. His character has been beautifully penned and can remind you of the character of actor Anil Kapoor essayed in the old Hindi film ‘Eeshwar’.
It is a gripping book and not dull or didactic by any means, despite the absence of sexualized romance and despite the abundance of bank-related subjects.
The author makes another brilliant move towards the climax and simply checkmates you when he lends a refreshing touch to the subjects of death and after-life. The few pages towards the end are set in a graveyard where he shows us the bitter-sweet-bitter world of human beings through the eyes and lips of worms.
It is, undoubtedly, one of the finest books to have emerged in recent times and deserves to earn the spotlight it has been kept bereft of.
[This review has been written as a part of the Book Review Program for The Tales Pensieve, a place where writers and readers come together. Do make sure to follow these guys.]