Author Om Parkash Jawa | Genre Short Story | Publisher Diamond Books | Page Count 286
Reading a short story by an author you don’t know is a good way of getting to know their writing style and genre. Recently I read a short story collection ‘Sanctity of Life’. This is the second book by the author Om Parkash Jawa.
Sanctity of Life is a collection of three stories:
Legend of King Shaantu of Vidisha
Stars of Chitrakoot
In the first story Legend of Shaantu, a grandmother narrates the story of King Shaantu to her grandchildren. Her only son is also listening to the story and somehow feels that his mother doesn’t love him enough and the reason for this is the somewhat harsh behavior of his mother towards him. Though the reason for this isn’t very clear in the story.
King Shaantu’s one ignoble act invokes the wrath of Gods and his kingdom is cursed with drought and famine. However, King Shaantu realizes his mistake and renounces all worldly pleasures. He dedicates himself to the service of his subjects. His virtuous deeds please God and his kingdom is once again blessed with prosperity and abundance.
The second story Stars of Chitrakoot is about a fictional land Chitrakoot where common people are suffering due to the ideological beliefs of a few. But amidst all the misery and suffering, there is a ray of hope in the form of selfless doctors who are dedicated to serving humanity. It’s their selflessness that brings realization to the strayed ones. They repent their misdeeds and pledge to be loving and compassionate.
The last story ‘Lost Childhood’ shows how greed for money blinds a man so much that he stoops to vicious and shameful means of amassing it. A young boy is kidnapped and made to beg on the streets. He is often mercilessly beaten by the kidnapper. The only solace for the young child is the kidnapper’s daughter who stands up against her father to protect him.
All three stories come with moral lessons. The author has tried to convey the message of love, mercy, service, kindness, and sacrifice through his stories. The stories are thought- provoking and will make you think and reflect on the deteriorating human values.
The author had lost his grandmother and father during the partition. Having witnessed the horrors of partition at a tender age, the author is committed to spreading the message of peace and compassion and this is evident in his stories.
Even after facing a personal tragedy, the author isn’t embittered but still believes in the goodness of people. There are both good and evil characters in the stories. The author believes that a strayed human child cannot remain an incorrigible prodigal son forever. The stories come with a message of hope. The evil characters in his stories realize their follies, repent and transform by the end.
Now coming to the things which could have been better in the book…
The language of the book is not easy and clear. There are lengthy monologues. The use of elaborate words and flowery language makes it a bit complex. I think beginner readers will find it difficult to understand.
The stories were lengthy and dragged in between. Better editing until the content is crisp and clean would have made the book more professional, readable, and effective.
In spite of the few hiccups here and there, the author has managed to deliver his message across. You can pick this book up if you are looking for some interesting stories with moral lessons.
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P.S. I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
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