A Flawed God
Rs 250 pp 284
To begin with, the plot has you hooked. A first class cricketer probed for a match-fixing scandal forays into the world of business and lands in a corporate cesspool, where he is assigned the task of assassinating the head of a secret guild called the Progress in Work Collective. The only problem: the target happens to be the object of his affection, office spouse and sounding board.
His lover has inherited a literary flourish and a penchant for the dramatic from her dad Jack Daniels, a hard drinking teacher in the backwaters of Kerala. He christens her Pause Daniels, saying: “You were a comma in my life sentence with your mother”. Pause, in turn, rechristens Sanchit Misra, the protagonist, Sancho Panza as he has rescued Don, his boss, in many a crisis. Completing the Quixotic cocktail is Don’s secretary Rocinante. As the author writes: “Rocinante … Don Quixote de la Mancha’s horse. His explanation, ‘Don likes to ride her’, had produced a raised eyebrow from Pause, but I liked the name.”
The most interesting sections of the book are those that deal with Sancho’s visit to a playshop in Turkey to get a lowdown on the principles behind the collective and those where the romance between Pause and him plays out.
The novel’s title, of course, is a comment on the flaws of the stock market and the central theme is ownership or the lack of it by shareholders who determine the fate of a company rather than the employees who work hard in it.
When an American consultant recommends a voluntary retirement scheme at a refrigeration company, local bahubali Rana Vidroh Bahadur Singh kidnaps the human resource director from the factory. Whenever the going gets tough, our hero falls back on lessons from ‘guruji’, his erstwhile cricket coach. After much tilting at the windmills, Sancho and his rag-tag team manage to rescue the Don. A desi Cervantes, anybody?