Millennium Post

Gods, guns and Tibet

It’s a story about how far apples of the same tree can go on falling off the branches, but it’s also a story about how the parent tree remains central to the identy of the apples. The novel almost in a heartbreaking manner delineates the story of how exile kills people’s past and creates monster of memories. The oppression silences opposition and people’s still voices refuse to provide answers.

Kaushik Barua in his debut novel tells the story of Tibet and the struggle Tibetans wage to preserve their identities divided right through the middle between the choices of Gods and Guns. The account is historical in nature told through the agency of fiction. And as they say, Barua’s piece of fiction comes closer to reality than the lies around us.

The book tells a story of shared pain and agony. While, Norbu has been born to affluent parents and has a cushy and cosy life in India’s capital city, Lhasang Tsering is uprooted from his homeland and planted in the middle of the dust and smoke of  India. Both boys are uncomfortable with their present and both want to break free. What also joins them together is their nationality. The yearning to fight Chinese oppression is a common thread bringing the two on a common platform. ‘A nation’, the author says, ‘has its roots in the minds of the people. Not in the land.’

While Norbu seems to be suffereing from survivor’s guilt, Lhasang is neck deep in his resolve to fight against the humiliation and oppression metted out to him and his people. The novel delves deeper to explore motive forces of the human psyche and explores the frontiers of human freedom.
Using local Tibetan myths and beliefs and the contradicting and contesting views on ‘Kundun’ (The Dalai Lama), Barua manages to weave a mesh through which stories are told and characters skteched. The characters are bruised and battered and yet are brought to life by the shared hope. Hope to be able to return to their homeland some day.

The faithful trust the Gods and the rebels trust their guns to create the way. But they all believe that some day they will be able to amble back to where they belong.
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