Book Review of Journey from Guwahati to Machhiwara by Dr Shiv Sethi

By Prof Shiv Sethi

Title- A Brush With Life

Sylvia Plath states “ everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise “. This appears absolutely right when it comes to Rajiv Bakshi’s  anthology of short stories ‘ Journey from Guwahati to Machhiwara’. The master raconteur Bakshi has very consummately  presented  the honest and delightful picture of real life situations in his slim but artistically solid book. Each of his story, leavened with the figment of his fecund imagination, leaves long lasting, indelible impressions on the minds of the readers about life and people the author comes across. Apparently, It is an easy to understand collection of tales that does not tax the cognitive faculties of  the readers. This fluidity of thought and lucidity of style is the key with which the writer unlocks the door of his readers’ hearts and reserves his place there. The graphic descriptions and pictorial images enshrined in this literary work of high merit fetch it a wider appeal cutting across all the section of society. Readers spontaneously get enamored  of the puckish humor  coupled with a swarm of  illustrations. The ideas gush out of  the mind of the author the way a mighty cascade flows through some dense verdant valley ripping apart the mighty layers of the mountains. Shift of moods is one of the most alluring characteristics of the anthology. We can not categorize it as a mere work of pathos ( though the author is somber at times) as humor also permeates to help the readers experience a fair amount of comic relief. The refined humor which Bakshi sprinkles on the texture  with his subtle creativity keeps the readers engaged and in high spirits throughout the narrative. While dwelling on his style of spinning the yarn, the storyteller has deftly  taken recourse to first person narrative. He chooses to get the  anecdotes delivered directly from the horse’s mouth.  The another feather to his cap is that all of his tales proffer a beautiful message to the readers and they feel enriched at the conclusion  of each story. Unlike most of the modern writers Bakshi does not believe in baffling his readers. Therefore, the book has no space for befuddling jargon and unintelligible literary terminology. Thus, the real charm of the book lies in its easy  interpretation and makes it a quick read. Art of characterization emerges as author’s forte. The characters are not hewn out of stone and wood. They are the individual with flesh and blood whom we meet in the course of  our day to day life and all of them resonate with the readers fully well. The author has copious skill with which he celebrates the marvels of human life through his heart touching and gripping tales. We also happen to catch a glimpse of Bakshi’s humble insights as he pens down honest observations about the world and the people in it. His stories make us cogitate  over some existential issues as well. The author aptly  opines that all of us are inclined to  create our own world in our own sweet ways and  call it life. if that is not sheer magic then what it is?

One can also sense the element of loads of healthy  humour soaked  with  sublime messages , in his stories like  “Encounter with Wasps”, “Resolutions Are Made To Be Broken, “One More Reason To Fight” and so on. Every aspects of human life has been vividly and aesthetically sketched  in this book. Though other facets  of the book keep us engrossed but in toto, it is the elegant humor that captures the attention of the discerning reader most of the times. Therefore, it will not be hyperbole to remark that Rajiv Bakshi is one of the finest  humorists  from the galaxy of the modern Indian writers writing in English. It is the chief ingredient that percolates down from top to bottom in the warp and woof of  his book and lends it inimitable vivacity.  Though the concluding stories primarily  deal with articulate details of loss of life of the loved ones and a bereaved person is emotionally clueless to the only truth of life( which is none other than death , to which William Shakespeare addresses as the final act of life’s drama) In his  “the last ride together”, the writer unravels the mystic truth and sheds light on the inevitable by stating  that life is uncertain, we should not take anything or anyone for granted. We should express our love and care for our loved ones. As we never know when will the needle of clock come to a standstill  and we will lose one another. The collection of his stories also portrays women in various hues as adamant, independent, shopaholic and  reckless wastrels, whereas the men are the typical benevolent earners. In a nutshell, this famous columnist of The Tribune, The Hindustan Times, The Women’s era and so on has presented a work of art which  cuts ice with the reader from all the segments of society. Indeed a must read for all!