Witness to a Wandering Mind by Triloknath is a work of fiction about some families living in the pre-independence time in Punjab of undivided India. The story spirals from the author’s life. He, in fact, narrated a lot about his ancestors with the help of history, religion, caste, creed and much more. The author subtly brushes aside the fantastical themes and takes pride in narrating the impeccable achievement of life of his ancestors, which also includes his wanderings as a kid and child and young man.
The book is full of family events, and at every corner there are characters that the author doesn’t forget to introduce to readers. Reading this book is like living with some family, going through the streets and neighborhood, feeling the blend of customs and lineage right before the eyes – all in an epoch that this generation might have forgotten. As the author grows through turmoil and chaos amidst the independence and other events, he realizes the value of family and finally gets to see bouts of self-realization.
This book encapsulates family history of many and shares tales from life of many characters like Nand, Devi, Sacchidanand, Bhanamall and many more. The book is poignant in exposing all the nuisances of caste and creed that went on that time. The author at places used Hindi and Punjabi jargons to mix up the story well. Though there were communal harmony and comradeship that time but people were also aware of the distance that their religious and caste roots indicated. They maintained distance yet remained gelled. The book has umpteen instances where readers can figure out the prejudicial temperament and discrimination.
The author, when he was a kid, absorbs all quite innocently and often ponders on many aspects of that he may not get answers. But it was the way of life to learn lessons that may go longer with him.
If you are interested in knowing the culture and custom of pre-independence life of undivided Punjab, probably this book will take you to that era which you can live through this book. Author’s writing style is cohesive, narration with jargons is slightly tough but overall it makes up a good piece of historical literature.
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