"No Man's Land" By Nilesh Shrivastava - Eternal and Enduring Terra Firma
Here’s the compelling story of Land and its ever transient owners told excellently by Nilesh Shrivastava. In his own words, Nilesh states that “titles change, Governments change, times change, but the land stays where it is—unmoved and sterile.”
With land in the background, the novel portrays ambition, greed, affections, fears, apprehensions and struggle of the characters to own or annex it. The story is about Agastya , the ambitious father supported by Shashwat , his friend philosopher and guide , who build and lord an estate (of land) and want it to be divided justly between his son Pranay and stepson Karan (born to him out of marriage). Pranay and Karan who are estranged from childhood and have blemished pasts and base aspirations are guided differently by the same Dushyant Uncle personified as malice and greed .Pranay is brought up by his mother Shubhangi and grandfather Ramdev, who is estranged from her husband after she knows about Agastya’s ex-marital affair with Shalini. He is pampered and studies in a boarding school in Mussoorie and studies in college too without any financial worries, but without any fatherly affection or guidance. Karan on the other hand is bought up with the negative hues of criticism and adversities with the knowledge of having a father not acceptable to the society. How the sons encounter, behave and resolve the inheritance with the counseling of Shashwat and Dushyant is the main stay of the story.
The story is about Gurgaon Circa in 1998, when the pangs of a city to be born is evidenced from ordinary farms turning into virtual gold mines in the shadow of lofty skyscrapers.
The different characters depicted in this gripping tale like Shalini, the courageous woman and loyal mother of Karan, Shubhangi , the strong willed wife of Agastya and mother of Pranay, Ramdev , the wise father of Agastya, Shreya , the alert yet childlike modern girlfriend of Pranay along with Agastya, Shaswat, Pranay and Karan are blended into an interesting tale on contemporary theme of increasing demand for Land. The personalities of the naïve Pranay and rash Karan who lack the fatherly supervision in the forming years are rendered justifiably. The string of events right from the first chapter to the last have coherence and are consistently placed.
The foregoing description of the characters and events offers a marked distinction from other routine and mundane themes. The essence of the story is the illustration of the beauty and immortality of Land. In his own words, Nilesh convincingly affirms that “ Land isn’t about a pot of soil and a bunch of papers declaring its ownership. It’s more about the solidity and identity it can bring to a man. Its s physical, visible and more importantly it’s permanent. You can’t burn it like money; you can’t melt it like gold.”
The narration is interesting and will not allow one to keep the book down till one knows the end. The various shades of the literate society, but the share of the positive and optimistic few confirms the author’s promise of building a better society.
This is a must read book and a must buy book. Thank You Nilesh, for the wonderful experience.