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MUST READ: Burial at Sea

The scene of the novel is India in the 1930s. The protagonist of the novel is Jai Bhagwan whose English governess has changed his name to Victor so that he can join an English university without any difficulty.

india Updated: May 20, 2006 14:33 IST

Burial at Sea
Khushwant Singh
Price — Rs 275
Publication — Penguin

The book under review is a genre Khushwant Singh has used scarcely of late. As the preface of the book reads: “In this, his first novel in five years, one of India’s most widely read authors returns to territories he knows best— 20th century Indian history, bogus religion and sexuality”.

The scene of the novel is India in the 1930s. The protagonist of the novel is Jai Bhagwan whose English governess has changed his name to Victor so that he can join an English university without any difficulty.

Since his childhood, he is adored by Gandhi as a bright young man who would personally prosper and be unswerving to the well being of his country. After returning from University of England, Victor gets new ideas, techniques and most modern industry to his country at the time of independence — the time when India needed all these things badly.

The book also deals with the death of Gandhi, Victor’s married life, the death of his desolate Indian wife, marriages of his sisters with Indian bureaucrats and finally the life of Bharati, his only daughter.

An interesting turnaround in Victor’s life is his falling in love with a mysterious woman with an uncertain past in the midst of the beautiful mountains Haridwar. This is the story of a man who has an incessant craving to achieve something in life.

Only after reaching the middle of his life that he realises the necessity to be loved. He makes meagre attempts to express his thoughts to an understanding woman.

But tragically for him, his love for that woman is not accepted by the society. The end of the novel is however too abrupt and leaves the readers somewhat confused. Read and decide on your own.