Tall Man Small Shadow - Review
Tall Man Small Shadow provides a philosophical insight into the mysticism of life and existence. The novel is woven around the lives of several characters, who, quite enigmatically, are linked with each other. As a result, the happenings in their lives affect the other threaded connections as well. Vipin Behari Goyal, the author, tries to present a story with this unique concept of existentialism, and succeeds to score high in most parts.
The characterization is the highlight of this story. Each of the characters have been defined prominently, and have important roles assigned to them in the plot. Anupam is the protagonist who loves to analyse the spiritual meaning of life and existence. He is a deep thinker and tries to comprehend the journey of life, and the meaning of death. Sulekha, his wife, is a quick thinker and an intelligent woman. She is well versed in the art of manipulation and devises strategies that make events appear as mere coincidences.
Their daughter, Aalya, young and beautiful, is a student of research in English Literature. She wishes to pursue her PhD, and is guided by Seema. The student-teacher relationship gradually turns into a deep camaraderie, and they start trusting and confiding in each other. They explore the dimensions of love and relationships, often controversial, but invigorating and relaxing to them.
Seema’s husband, Paul, is a drama director. He is a perfect partner to Seema and caters to all her needs. However, his inability to provide Seema with a child had created a void in her life. Sahil is the neighbor of Aalya. He secretly likes Aalya, but is afraid to delve deep into a relationship with her. The failure of his past love had left him insecure.
Vipin debuts with an unconventional theme and succeeds in presenting the story in an easy and lucid manner. The events flow seamlessly, and the viewpoints presented by different characters for the same event provide multiple dimensions to the plot. You find yourself peeping into the minds of the characters and analyse how they perceive the world around them.
However, the storytelling style often shifts from first person to third person narrative, which again doesn't augur well for the flow that the author had intended. This doesn't hamper much since the story progresses at a regular pace, but to an avid reader like me, this does come out as a chink that should have been rectified during the editing process. Also, there are a few grammatical hiccups which again threaten to stall the pace of the tale, and care should have been taken to eradicate them.
The author tries hard to present his thoughts, and his sincerity and honesty reflect in the words. The novel is short and good for a quick read. However, to truly understand the philosophical ideas imbibed between the lines, you need to read it at a leisurely pace, perhaps only a few chapters at a time, and then replay the events in your mind with your eyes closed. You will find the characters come alive.
Title: Tall Man Small Shadow
Author: Vipin Behari Goyal
Publication Year: 2013
My Rating: 3/5
By Sankalpita for Vipin Behri Goyal
Geeked On August 31, 2013
By Sankalpita for Vipin Behri Goyal
WRITING STYLE: 3/5
ENTERTAINMENT QUOTIENT: 3/5
“Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see”
– Martin Luther King Jr.
Shadows are, what one may say, the most miserable creatures of the world; bound by shackles of their owner and at the existential mercy of the light which creates them as per its whims, they are the most forsaken beings. But then, do we really know the truth, do we see the complete picture or are we merely blinded by the limitations of our ignorant selves. It is this apparent inconsequential part of our existence, that the book explores in detail and which results in this short and sweet story (I would rather call it a novella) of a man matured, a girl blossomed, a lady fulfilled, and an old couple contented.
Anupam is an old man happily living with his wife and daughter when he notices the new man in his neighborhood. Salil, a loner who has nothing but books for his company, is a man matured beyond his years. Aalya the daughter of the jolly hearted old man is a girl who knows what she wants, and how to get it. Currently pursuing her doctorate degree under her guide Seema, she is looking forward to making her mark in the world. Seema, the lonesome wife of Paul, the artist, is anything but content in her marriage. With an indifferent and absent husband, she has no one to mind her emotional and physical needs. The characters interact, involve and keep moving on their erratic haphazard paths but ultimately settle for a less chaotic version of their life, intermingled with the lives of others around them in complete harmony. How do they reach this harmony, this state of bliss? Is it mere coincidence or the ingenious of a cunning ploy? Well, to Sulekha it appears like the payoffs of her craft and prowess. At a time when she is complacently celebrating the success of her conniving, it is humbly disclosed by her husband (at the end of five years and also at the end of the book) that happy endings in their story have more do with co-incidence than the wife’s perfectly executed planning.
The book, all of 152 pages, is short and can easily be done with in a single sitting (I practically read half of it while in a traffic jam on my way home from office). Leaving the co-incidence and shadow philosophy aside, the book has not much to offer in terms of a strong plot and strong characters. The editing mistakes could have been avoided and the burden of repetitive philosophy shunned. Another thing which may blight your reading pleasure is the frequent change of voices. One instance you are reading Salil’s version and the next Aalya’s and what surprised me most is the fact that this happens in all chapters. With a little more effort and time dedicated to it, the book would have been an outstanding read for the story is both intriguing and crisp. All in all, considering the fact that it rescued me from the awful traffic jam, I would rate it a three out five stars.