Book Reviews - An Idealised journey within
by T. A. Basubramanian
Harnam noticed that his life had been a chequered one. Sometimes there was extreme misery and sometimes there was extreme joy. At times, the joyous phase had no real cause. It flowered right out of the soil of misery for no reason at all.”
P S Wasu’s fictional story is like a mirror set up to reflect the many possible paths and associated epiphanies that a typical middle-class Indian might encounter in the course of growing up – except that they all happen to one individual across one imagined life.
‘Reflection’ may well be the operative description of Wasu’s stream-of-consciousness narrative. So we have young Harnam, the protagonist in the title, going through the process of schooling and part of the way through an engineering college – and winding up after an aborted attempt at suicide – as a restless seeker of truth and wisdom.
Wasu faithfully continues – like an objective third eye – reflecting on the boy’s yo-yo state of happiness or misery as he tries out various occupations (writing, advertising) and goes on to encounter different teachers and gurus – through an idealised series of life influences ranging from discourses on the mind and self to Advaita-inspired introspection, and eventually falls into a state of love. These ‘self’ discoveries are presented in three phases – dreams, ideas and feelings – arranged in that sequence to track the evolution of Harnam from a bewildered young seeker to a mature adult.
These life-shaping attributes of what happens to a seeking mind in the midst of India’s changing environment are perhaps the stuff of common experiences that we might all recognize. Wasu’s story encourages us to reflect on our own individual trips – and while the details may vary, maybe – with a little reflection – we could find pointers to our own self-discovery in the process.
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