Author : Rituraj Verma
Rituraj Verma, born 28th June, 1967,
grew up in Delhi and Mumbai and cleared the IIT-JEE in 1984, in which year, he was also selected as a Special Class Railway Apprentice by the Indian Railways. He was the editor of his college magazine, SAM, when he first started writing the book’s first story ‘A High Like Heaven’ almost twenty three years ago.
He later obtained his MBA from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA , and went on to work for several years in the corporate world before striking out on his own
This is a book that is quite possible one of the most difficult to review, as it is not a story; nor is it prose; and neither is it a collection of short stories! First, it is a genre unto itself – one pioneered by Tamasha In Bandargaon with its interconnected short stories. Second, unlike its predecessor in this genre, it is not a set of stories; it is more like a collection of experiences. You cannot read this book – it has to be experienced and its message understood. Whereas “Tamasha….” is crystal clear, this book is more of a discovery… but more of that later
Love, Peace and Happiness is a book that focusses on the hunt of its characters (whom I shall not introduce; that would be a spoiler) for the equilibrium in their lives. Here you will find normal people, some of whose feelings and emotions every married man or woman can identify with. Almost every character portrayed in the story will trigger your memory and remind you of someone you have known or interacted with. The character portrayals are startlingly accurate; the mannerisms and personality traits of the archetypical role in our society have been breathtakingly captured. The book is worth a read for this alone; you have to marvel at the author’s grasp, understanding and observation of life.
The characterisation is strong, with bold lines and highlighted traits. The characters are amazingly well-etched and realistic. The jealous man whose wife earns more than him; or the elder sister who sacrifices everything for her family… all have been superbly outlined in the book. Their habits, traits are along the lines what we can observe and have observed in our society. We have ourselves encountered many types and examples in daily life; perhaps some of you even in your own life. You will like as not find at least some take-away from this book on either an emotional or an experiential plane. And that is another reason to read it!
It is not light reading; far from it. It is heavy reading; but dont reject it because of that. The stories are short, and can be easily finished in a few minutes, or on journeys. The stories will leave a lump in your throat at some places, or leave you shaking your head at the crass immorality on display, or leave you in a state of wonder at the stupidity of a character, or provoke a feeling of utter disgust at the infidelity… but they will not leave you untouched. That is certain : the book will touch you in places and corners of your heart… and if you are lucky, the book will also remind you of some good thing, or some valuable relationship that you treasure….
The biggest takeaways from the book are on 2 planes: first the personal level. Most readers will find some personal learning where they could have reacted better in a relationship, since the human mind, especially under slight stress, tends to equate the imaginary with the real. You may not be an amoral person, a criminal against society who cheats on his wife – but you will still be touched in some place since the book deals with everyday situations. This is a book that focusses on relationships and the delicate interplay between 2 people, and that is what makes it so powerful.
Secondly, this book teaches us a lesson on a broader societal scale: the dangers of slipping too far from our values. The inherent pitfalls in a western-style of relationship (Live ins etc) have been brutally exposed. Equally, the dangers of a disturbed marriage as well as benefits of a stable married relationship have been well portrayed. This second is of course dependent on your personal viewpoint; but to people of my type, this is an advertisement of why to stick to our Indian Values.
The target for this book is every married man and woman – let us say ages between 25 – 45. This group will find it the easiest to relate to the powerful content of the book. Let me reiterate: this is not light reading. It is a journey into the land of relationships, into the hunt for Love, Peace and Happiness…