Appositely titled, “Maharaja in Denims”, the latest story by Khushwant Singh intriguingly combines passionate love, history, tragedy as well as the local culture of Chandigarh, author’s worktown.
In his first fictitious narrative spanning multiple time zones and generations, the author relates with various aspects of Punjab, including its formation, as well as Punjabi families particularly the farming community and successfully creates flashes of university life of Chandigarh.
Justifiably priced at Rs 250, the book dramatically creates interest in its reader towards the crucial events that shaped the present day Punjab. Blended well with the modern fiction, in less than 200 pages, the book emerges to be a light but thoughtful dose of antiquity of Sikhism and Punjab. Starting with the aura and greatness of Ranjit Singh, the book touches upon Captain WG Osborne’s fascinating account of Ranjit Singh, his harem and his love for women (no womaniser). Moving ahead, the book reflects on the aftereffects of the partition and 1984 riots in Delhi.
“Ranjit Singh, who rose from the status of a petty chieftain to become the most powerful Indian ruler was also the first and only Sikh ruler of Punjab. His empire extended from Tibet to the deserts of Sindh, and from the Khyber Pass to the Sutlej in the east, with an estimated area of 1, 00,436 sq. miles and a population of five-and-a-half million.” I was particularly inspired by the vastness of the empire of the great Maharaja. Although, the typical political hatred could also be smelled out of the flow of events, overall the book is very much a work of fiction.
The fictional aspects of the book revolves around the central character Hari, a college going young adult who inadvertently discovers himself to be a reincarnation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the true lion of Punjab and Sikhism. His caring girlfriend Suzanne becomes a rather helpless observer of his previous lives traversing through multiple generations.
Presenting an outline of the major events that led to the creation of modern Punjab and the multiple problems it had to face in its eventful journey; the book will motivate you to know more about the greatness and effectiveness of Ranjit Singh. Anybody who has spent his college or university days in Chandigarh would be able to relate with the flow of fiction in the book. The simplified language of the book interspersed with witty local phrases makes for an easy and compulsive fresh fiction read on the region.
You can buy the book online at Flipkart.