Mihir is feeling trapped in the humdrum typical of the mid-life. A seething sense of incompleteness out of his unfulfilled passion for writing is making him miserable. This is when he feels compelled to take to writing. He has decided to begin his writing journey with offering a slice of his past to the readers, which he treats delicious.
As Boys Become Men is the story of the trio, Mihir, Uday & Sandeep told by an intense Mihir. The journey begins with the three getting instinctively drawn to each other to make the trio for pursuing their ambition, Civil Services. They have migrated from Bihar and are studying History in Delhi university. Uday is flamboyant and sure with a “dabbling with desire” prescription on life. Sandeep’s mantra of life is travelling on the assuring “middle path”, a Buddhist in approach that he is. Mihir is shy, thoughtful and intense with melancholy blazing his mind, given to viewing life in a philosophical hue. They are the birds of different feather flocking to the same destination. They land in the world of furious ambition and frenzied endeavour juxtaposed against the lethal coupling of full freedom and flaming desire. Thus emerges Sandeep-Aparna, Uday-Sanjana and Mihir-Jyoti. They are left to negotiate the tricky path between Dharma and desire. It is the journey through the blinding labyrinth of last and the eternal lure of love. Though the following the different paths, interestingly all of them emerge “Krishna” at once.
A buoyant spirit of sharing and caring springs up from the constantly evolving sense of camaraderie, which dilutes the drudgery of diligence treading a difficult path demands. How sparkling can be the fun this boisterous bonhomie brews can be anybody’s guess! A sparkling story of the bond between a boisterous trio, the book will take you on a journey of discovery, where boys become men and students become civil servants.
Mihir has succeeded in reaching his cherished destination; Uday abandons CS midway, smug out of having put in his best, in sort of ‘the Lion getting rubbed the wrong way’ manner. Sandeep compromises his CS for his love, choosing his favourite middle path.
Towards the end of the journey Mihir begins getting restless with the remorse, “Alas! if I had had faith in my innateness!” This novel through the protagonist Mihir beautifully brings out how the innateness of man helps him in his pursuit of a challenging ambition in life.
Is Mihir ecstatic having reached his destination? “Mona Lisa is the most attractive hue of life” Mihir gets discovering at his final arrival. The book touchingly captures in a subtle manner the socio-economic-political milieu of the youth drain from Bihar, and the simmering schism amongst the humanity of the nation. The writer has invented the tool of the debate amongst the three History boys to reflect upon the deeper layers of life. Their conversation in the language of History keeps popping up the mind teasing philosophical and intellectual thoughts on God, religion, universe and topping all man, affording exciting perspectives in a refreshing manner. Remarkable in this regard are the contexts of the freedom struggle piloted by Gandhi, the JP movement and the turbulent History of West Asia.
Why the trio get pursuing what they are, how they have negotiated their desire on the path to their destination, whether the characters of the trio have a bearing upon their destiny or not, let the readers find out along the journey! And let the readers also get soaking into the revelation that journey and destination may be integral to each other, but they are certainly not one. “Travelling is better than arriving”, Mihir talks to himself at the end. This novel is the story of life in its myriad nuances under its mesmerizingly shifting hues. Remarkable in the book are the two symbols which render it sparkling; Soma for anything kicky viz. dream, desire, hope etc, and Mona Lisa capturing the complex human emotions characterised by the simultaneity of pain and pleasure. Summing it up, this book explores college life, friendship, romance, leaving home, adjusting to a new environment, ambition and passion under a philosophical hue; A slice-of-life tale with a “Mona Lisa” flavour.
A mesmerising blend of fun and philosophy, As Boys Become Men is a gripping and refreshing read. The construction of the plot has been executed with an authoritative élan, artistically fusing the sublime with the mundane. The diction is very innovative and the language symphonic, which are able to prop up the literary richness and the weight of the ideas. Certainly a novel with an appealing difference. As Boys Become Men doesn’t appear to be the debut work of a first time writer. Mukul Kumar is a fresh breeze in the fiction writing.