My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Rishi Vohra’s Diary Of An Angry Young Man encapsulates the frustrations, the fury, and by large the helplessness of the majority of young Indians in our country. Raghav is one of us, surviving as a rape victim at the tender age of 7 and unable to speak about it and thereby bottling the rage which keeps burning to an inferno and erupting at inopportune times.
India has a pulse but I have always believed that the city of Mumbai is the throbbing center point of our beautiful country. The coming of the age story of Raghav in finding the purpose of his life has been portrayed with such brilliance that the vitality of this vibrant city comes to life thru the different characters in the story. Incorporating real life incidents in marking the changes in Raghav’s life, the author brings to the fore the upheavals that have rocked our nation as a whole and the impact that these events left in our minds. The friendship that Raghav forms with the kids from the other side of Colaba is filled with such warmth and I loved how the author highlights the innocence of children against any kind of communal divide thru a sweet gesture that Raghav extends to Faisal.
However, it was not Raghav but the young Rani whose life in the streets as a beggar which evoked pain and torment in my mind. Raghav’s traumatic ordeal makes for some hard reading even though the author has thankfully kept the description to the bare minimum nevertheless conveying the utter devastation it causes inside Raghav. Each character in the story be it the embittered father, the loving sister, the tough-minded police inspector, even the tenderhearted ‘chacha and chachi’ who open their home to an orphan, are all characters that we see in real life and it is this that makes reading The Diary Of An Angry Young Man a very enriching experience.
Many thanks to the author for a chance to read and review this book. All opinions are expressed voluntarily.
Raghav is an ordinary seven-year-old growing up on the ‘good’ side of Colaba in Bombay. His is a safe, protected world and he is kept well away from the ‘other’, darker side of Colaba, which nevertheless, holds a deep fascination for him with its colorful, busy alleys bustling with activity, people and mystery – the ‘real’ world as far he is concerned.
But life has other plans and Raghav’s entire world comes crashing down one day. In the space of a few crucial hours, his childish innocence is ripped away brutally, and he also loses the one person who may have made his world right again – his mother. That fateful day alters the course of his life and the ‘other’ side is the only place he can escape his now truly miserable home life and his bitter father who he resents more and more each day. He never tells even his closest friends about the horrific abuse he suffered the day his mother died, the day a fierce, burning anger took root in his very soul.
Now, 20 years later, all his peers and friends are settling down into jobs and the business of growing up. But Raghav is still trapped between his now suffocating relationship with his father, his own inability to find a job and make a life for himself and the painful memories of his childhood ordeal that still haunt him. And this is when he meets Rani one day, an orphan beggar girl who knows life on the streets of Mumbai, but not in the way Raghav does. He wants to ‘save’ Rani from the beggar mafia and give her a chance at a better life. His strong need to stand up for something, to truly help someone is fueled by the recent Nirbhaya gangrape case in New Delhi, that evokes painful memories of his own past trauma.
Set in Bombay in 1992 and Mumbai in 2012, and inspired by true events, Diary of an Angry Young Man is a coming-of-age urban drama that explores the complex layers of humanity. And the city that engenders them.
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