Book Title: False Ceilings
Author : Amit Sharma
Publisher: LiFi Publications Pvt Ltd (1 January 2016)
About The Book-
Born in the lush mountains of Dalhousie, Shakuntala is a pampered child of a wealthy builder. On her wedding night in 1946, she is gifted a secret to use wisely when the time comes. From the green valleys of Dalhousie to a village in Punjab reeling under the communal violence of 1947, from the Delhi 1950s with its intoxicating smell of freedom to the Delhi of 1970s soaked in the hippie culture, the cancerous secret breathes with her, infects her. It is accidentally passed down, hidden under insecurities and jealousies, locked in its meaningless and leaving a trail of ruin.
About The Author-
Amit Sharma is the Author of fiction novel False Ceilings published by Lifi Publications in January 2016. False Ceilings is a Family Saga spanning 130 years and is set in Delhi and Dalhousie. He works as a Software labourer in an IT firm.
Book Review –
A secret can ruin your life; at least it did in this story spanning five generations. They all inherited something more than the family name, but only one person in each generation was privy to the existence of this mysterious bundle wrapped in a yellow cloth that was hidden in the false ceiling of the wooden almirah. This seemingly innocent object was supposed to be a boon but became a bane for the recipients and tragedies followed them wherever they went.
At first glance it appeared to be a story about partition and the lives of the refugees, their physical and emotional trauma. I’d often heard my parents talk about their arduous train journey to India during the partition in 1947. Both of them, mere children at the time. They’d told us about their fears, confusion and heartbreak at leaving behind all their familiar things, places and many childhood friends. But as I turned the pages and met with the other characters in this family drama, another plot unfolded in front of my eyes. Within no time the rosy hue of innocence and love in the lives of a newly married couple in this tale, changed to a muddy brown of distrust with shades of angry red. Amit, in his debut novel, has effortlessly managed to weave lives of the characters in his book into a tapestry of love, intrigue, intent, secrecy, deceit and jealousy, making this an unputdownable book.
The story originates in Dalhousie, making its way to Punjab and then Delhi, though the writer takes us back and forth in time. It made for interesting reading, racy too. I finished the book in one sitting, and by the end of the book I was dying to know what was hidden in the yellow cloth bundle. When a writer pulls the reader inside the story with his writing, he has delivered.
The story begins with Aaryan and the If-Else statement in 2001. I found this character to be the most disturbed, second only to Shakuntala. Aaryan’s mental makeup was damaged by society while Shakuntala was partly to be blamed for her behavior, her grandmother had set the wheels in motion and Shakuntala had taken over the controls after a while. The story reminds me of this saying, cutting off the nose to spite the face.
After a long time a story of such a dysfunctional family or should I say generations of the above mentioned clan had me turning the pages eagerly, hastening to get to the part where the secret of the yellow cloth bundle would be revealed. Amit was successful in keeping his readers in the dark about the cursed secret throughout the book and when he revealed it in the end I pitied the poor soul who had harbored this secret for so long. The ugly face of vindictiveness wasn’t pretty but who can say why a person behaves a certain way, it is all in their mind. Each one interprets the situation according to his/her understanding of the same, we all are wired differently 🙂
The experiences in our childhood shape our personalities and children from happy homes grow up to become well-adjusted adults. A traumatic incident can mar the psyche of the child and scars him/her for life. This is what happened with Aaryan, he could never forget the gruesome sight of the burning hand in the broken window of the burning taxi and the helpless screams and violence he witnessed as a five year old. When the kids hear their parents and grandparents arguing in the house, they learn to cope with them by hiding their true feelings and joking about the situation. The hidden emotions fester and grow septic, corroding their impressionable minds.
‘False ceilings’ is a family drama, a complicated one, with lots of twists and turns. Amit has portrayed his characters brilliantly and their flaws and failures are simply put out there, without any embellishments. I hated a few characters more than the others, sympathized with some and pitied the one who was responsible for the devastating domino effect in their lives. I can visualize this book being made into a movie; I even have an actress in mind for the role of the main protagonist, Shakuntala 🙂 any guesses?
By Sulekha Rawat
Amit’s website – http://amit-sharma.co.in