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Lucid writing makes Jaspreet Singh's 'Helium' a riveting read

Lucid writing makes Jaspreet Singh's 'Helium' a riveting read

Jaspreet Singh's Helium is set up in 1984 and is based on anti-sikh riots that shook me up as a reader and as a human being.

The year 1984 brings back a lot of memories to those who have survived through those tumultuous times. Pain, anguish, loss and many unfathomable instances that were the result of human behaviour at its extreme has been written in various forms. Jaspreet Singh's Helium is set up in 1984 and is based on anti-sikh riots that shook me up as a reader and as a human being. I could imagine what must have happened in those times and it was not a digestible feeling. It was tough to finish this book but I did and ended up liking it.

On November 1, 1984, as we all know anti-sikh riots broke out in the capital and many innocent people were killed. Amongst them was Professor Singh, an expert in chemistry and the mentor of the nineteen-year-old student, Raj. Professor with his group of students were returning from an industrial trip and as they got down at Delhi station, a mob sets the professor on fire. Raj saw everything happening in front of his eyes and just couldn't understand what was happening. Situations toned down and life moved on for Raj and after a couple of years, he moved to United States and started working at Cornell University. But many years later, he realized that his past is not leaving him at all.

Raj makes up his mind to return to India and find Professor Singh's widow, Nelly. He comes back to India and manages to find Nelly and goes back in the time with her remembering Professor Singh and what happened to him. Raj finds out that his father played an instrumental role in the riots that left him shattered. Both Nelly and him traced back the path, which brought them back to the train station where Professor Singh was burnt alive.

Author's lucid style of writing and haunting narratives having shades of collective silences and personal trauma is what made the book stand out for me though the book does not have a smooth narration. It keeps jumping between past and the present and that made it a bit tough to get into the book. A very interesting facet of this book is how the author has used visuals to describe certain things. As I am personally very fond of graphical & pictorial representation of things, it made this book a riveting read for me. I wish, structurally this book was stronger but nevertheless, it made for an interesting read. This book is not for everyone. The author has told a thought provoking story with many loose ends that keep the reader curious even after they have finished. Give it a shot, if it interests you.

Book Source: Publisher

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Genre: Fiction

Price: Rs 499
first published:April 07, 2014, 23:48 IST