It’s a story of a boy who transcends emotional boundaries to avenge his father’s humiliation. It’s also a story of a father who finally conquers his fears with the death of his beloved son-turned-Maoist. The later, perhaps, is a better accomplishment as the author turns the story around quite skillfully.
As the book begins, the animosity between the landowning and peasant classes of Bhagatpur and Tesri village finds itself at crossroads with the occurrence of an embarrassing incident. It was a normal day for Ramu Hajjam, tending to his chores — that of a small time barber in a small village — under a banyan tree. But a silly mistake on his part results in an injury on Subedar Singh’s cheek, changing the course of two people — Ramu and his son Pawan, who watch helplessly as his father was beaten up mercilessly for a fault that was worthy of forgiveness. An unannounced wave of rebel, however, gathers momentum after this incident. This would rewrite the future of Bhagatpur and Tesri.
Subedar’s remorseless blows on a despicable Ramu left chagrined Pawan with hatred in his heart and revenge in his mind.
On the other side of river, Kareh Maoists await such incidents as much eagerly as they disliked them. For it would brighten their chances of fresh recruitment. A few days after Ramu’s inclement bashing, three Maoists from Mukhdoompur approach him when he was on his way to his haat with Pawan. They urge Ramu to assist them in their fight against the land-owners and government officials. Maoists certainly leave an impression, but not on Ramu. His perturbed son, Pawan, whose unsurpassed aim had been to avenge blows that his father suffered, gets enticed with the idea of being a rebel.
Dragged further into the abyss, Pawan makes up his mind to explore the offer Maoists presented to his father. His transition had begun. Village’s popular compounder, Murli, who Pawan often assisted, became the source of Maoists whereabouts for bewildered Pawan.
The author gives a very profound description of this transition putatively touching the sensitive issue of Maoism, which has inevitably gripped India. That Maoists have taken to arms not by choice is not just rhetoric. Perhaps.
At first, it seemed like the sympathies of the author was with Maoists. The initial chapters trace the story of Pawan, who join Maoists. But soon the author arrive at a point where he makes it clear that contrary to what the readers think The Inexplicable Unhappiness of Ramu Hajjam actually is the story of his father. By the time the book ends, Ramu eventually overcomes his fears.
Expectedly, Pawan gets an opportunity to take his revenge when Achal Singh Mukhia (head of the village), known for his atrocities, decides to walk down to Dumri, a village in the vicinity to board a bus to the district headquarters in connection with an old criminal case with his arch rival Pratap Singh. As fearful thoughts gyrates Mukhia’s mind, an ambush by a group of Maoists (headed by Pawan) ends Mukhia’s case.
Consequently, during attempted loot at a government rice mill, a police trap and kill Pawan and one of his associates. The Inexplicable Unhappiness of Ramu Hajjam could have ended at that moment, but if looked from the prism of spirituality, it becomes the beginning of another perennial saga as the author takes you to the concluding chapters.
Hearing about his son, Ramu Hajjam once again, as he often did in this story, dreams about a saint. These dreams, which had become the source of confrontations, always leave him perplexed. but his son’s loss show him the meaning of life, which he would have escaped it if he could. He discovered the path that leads him to enlightenment.
The author very smartly rests his book on an important issue of Maoism to convey his message of spirituality in the end.