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Book Review: Unwanted 24 by Deepak Joshi

A person can be an immaculate planner of his life, still he cannot control the circumstances played by fate. Such is life, such is its story. Isn’t it? The novel by Deepak Joshi – Unwanted 24 – explores fate of its NRI protagonist that visits his village in the hills of Kumaon region, Uttarakhand.

A contingency called the protagonist Somesh Pandey back to his hilly village, where his family and relatives reside. He is so far successful and was on the verge of getting a job in the USA. After pursuing an M.A. in Archaeology at Chicago University, he is back in India…and thinking of going back in ten days, if not a week. However, the customs and conservative mechanism of village society ties him up. It comes out soon that his horoscope, as per the astrology, is indicating some untoward incidents like occurrence of an accident in next two years. He needs a safe haven and according to all seniors, elders, and astrologers he must not leave his village at least for two years. He is done.

For an USA returned village life could hardly be a place of his interest. He is getting bored. He gets into acquaintances of others like Bhawana – the school teacher, Diggi Bhai –a notorious local, Renu – his cousin, and above all at home his mother, father, and grandma rankles him. The story explores the love of elders in a middle-class family ambience and depicts how far they can go to stop their closed one. The author takes out all the nuisances, pros and cons of local customs and culture in a very funny tone. His observation of life, the difference in tenacity, their innate fears, and value as an NRI – all is bundled up in such a gripping way that the overall feel of the novel becomes riveting.

In life cultural gap matters, the author elaborated much Indianism in the plotline by putting a contrasting foreign-returned protagonist. Yet it cannot be denied that life is totally unpredictable. Something similar happened with Somesh…but his story is captivating, narrated with a tinge of humour.

The novel is written in simple language, with vivid imagery of more than two cultural places. Mostly it is in dialogue form, thus, reading is pleasant. At times you may laugh at the stupid decisions of Somesh, sometimes you may empathize with him. But the question is – what will be like his future after two years? Can he acclimatize with the villagers for two years? How will he get out of the jinxed prediction?

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