A Life Incomplete | Nanak Singh | Book Review

This book turns out to be the second book I’ve read under the Project India I’ve been working on where I read one book from an author in each state in India; the first being Goat Days by Benyamin. 

A Life Incomplete ( Adh Khidya Phul in Punjabi) was one of the most famous works of Nanak Singh, usually called the Father of Punjabi literature was recommended by a friend of mine.

I had begun reading the book without much thought about what it would pan out to be and this sure was worth my time and this book thought written during the 1940s about days in the 1920s still seems to be relevant today in India, and sure did bring a picture of the days back then! 

The Unofficial Synopsis

The book begins with the protagonist Kuldeep in prison (a political prisoner, due to his agitations against the British) who looks forward to his impending release to go meet his pregnant wife back at home in Peshawar and an unexpected friendship with a Muslim Jailor at the prison that perhaps felt like lasting forever.

Hit by a tragedy right after he reaches home he finds peace in recluse and shunning away all worldly pleasures and materials when he meets a saint, a mystic. While his mother felt happy that her son had found peace within the confines of religion, her happiness would be short-lived as her son would no longer consider her recommendations of marriage again and he no longer would take care of his own child! 

She recognizes that her predicament is the result of her own desire for the health, happiness and longevity of her son.

The rest of the story weaves around his interactions with Saroj, a childhood friend of his who always seemed to have a special place in her heart for him; his interactions with Waryam Singh who would be all over the place going an extra mile to help people out with wisdom about almost everyone in town and meandering through his thoughts with the introduction and Prakash, who arrives at his home as a help.

To be honest, the story has more to it that what it seems and it is difficult to explain how without spoilers. And I shall not reveal any spoilers and would refrain from anything that may ruin the reading experience.

My Thoughts

The first impression after reading the synopsis was that this would be another bland romance novel with cheesy cliches (I personally am not a fan of Romance, or perhaps just haven’t read the right books in the genre) but the story develops in a way that pulls you in and you would be curious as to what the next page would offer you.

That’s how we’ve become. We will spit at the moon if we can, though we know that some of the spit will probably fall back on our own face. But that’s not going to deter us, is it?

Waryam Singh – A Life Incomplete

What surprised me most is the religious divide, traditions and the hypocrisy we carry on our sleeves a century that have been passed over generations are still relevant in present day India and there’s very little that changed. I scoffed at the present state of affairs, but Nanak Singh is candid about everything around the period the story was set in.

Ah, and that brings me to the part I loved most in the book! The descriptions and explanations were precise and you literally begin to smell what the characters smelt, feel what they touched and be able to relate to each of them. The characters are more or less your own traits and each character personifies something within you and thus begin the moments that leave you in awe with the proximity of the emotions, thoughts and reactions of each of those characters.

Something to definitely note about this book is the language. It’s so smooth that I felt it was prose with the beauty of poetry. And all I wonder how much of the beauty is lost in the translation from Punjabi to English! Navdeep Suri deserve a bow to have ensured the fluidity and beauty of the original script is not lost and sure has done a fantastic job at it.

Another thing that really caught my eye is how goodwill and altruism, sometimes in a conservative society comes back to bite the one who thinks good. And more often than not how a personal bias weaves through the the strands of moral judgement altering our own fabric of thoughts.

I can say I learned one thing in this book – Balance. Balance of thoughts, balance of deeds, balance of speech, a balance of friends and family, a balance of the spiritual and the worldly things.

One has to pay the price of life, while the other has to sacrifice the very aspirations of life. You can give up your life for someone and still end up with a feeling of complete satisfaction. But what happens when you have to give up all your aspirations for someone? What will life be if it is bereft of aspirations? You could say that your sense of contentment comes from within and that you need nothing more.

Being perfectly candid, I fell in love with this book even though it’s something I usually don’t read and would rank in one of my best reads ever. EVER. 

My Recommendation

I would recommend it to everyone and this definitely should go onto your *Books to read before I die* list. No exaggeration. 

Or perhaps I just loved it way too much.

People who are mainly into Fantasy and Sci-fi may find it a little bit of a drag or perhaps dry though. But still, could give it a try!

There are so many of god’s creatures who die an unjust death without even feeling the warm touch of a helping hand. You could dedicate your entire life to the cause and they still wouldn’t get a minute each

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