There are some books that you simply read, and then there are some books that grip you in their magic and you start breathing them.. The Sialkot Saga by Ashwin Sanghi is one such book that you should definitely devour into this summer.
A twisted tale of faith and fate, The Sialkot saga is a mix of two stories, one that has been going on for centuries and the other which starts with the partition of India and Pakistan.
The Sialkot Saga opens with the story of Partition of India, 1947 where a train has just entered Amritsar station, leaking of blood and smelling of gore. Sukhbir Singh, the Railway Constable has just found a boy who has survived the massacre, born by a mad man’s fascination to create two nations out of one. He has just passed on the boy to his assistant under safety when he hears another cry.
Parallel to this story, the book takes us back to 250 BCE, Pataliputra, King Ashoka’s Kingdom. Tired of blood and gore that he witnessed in the War of Kalinga, Ashoka is now a transformed man. He now seeks to create a secret society of Nine Men, who will be burdened with a secret to guard with their life and pass on to the right person when the time comes. These nine men have the secret towards power, peace, better and longer life, something with which they want the world to be a better place.
The Sialkot Saga then moves on to the cities of Mumbai and Kolkata. Arbaaz Khan from Mumbai is a teenage scrawny boy who hunts while he hides. Arvind Bagadia from Kolkata is something which we call smart, a trait to be acquired if you want to be successful quick. Both Arvind and Arbaaz grow up to be similar, successful, smart, rich and with their own count of skeletons in the closet. While Arbaaz grows in life with support from Abdul Dada, the notorious don of Mumbai’s underbelly, whereas Arvind grows in life with his own set of rules and presence of mind, using which he twists regulations and finds loopholes that can help him in his journey towards success.
Bound by fate and faith, their paths cross from time to time. Both are unaware that what they seek and fight over is the very obstacle in realizing an ancient secret that dates back to a time long forgotten..
The story of the Sialkot Saga is impeccable and brainy, something of a business thriller. Two men from different backgrounds trying to cut off each other with tricks that no regular man would be able to figure out easily. Arvind and Arbaaz are two such characters that will leave you mesmerized and in awe, leaving you wanting for more from Ashwin Sanghi.
Overall, The Sialkot Saga is a great read, And by great I mean a phenomenon where you will be hooked to a 500+ pages book till the time you finish it. Every page that you turn leaves you stunned. And before you know it, a climax will come that will again leave you spell bounded. Ashwin Sanghi is one talented writer who has spun two tales into one, leaving the reader wanting for more. The story line is pretty smooth, full of twists and turns that will keep you engaged till the end. The characters are something which will leave an imprint on your mind, making it difficult to move on to another book. Though some pages could have been removed to shorten the length, but then it is something that can be easily overlooked when those extra pages turn put to be a great story.
What I really loved about the Sialkot Saga was the amount of research Sanghi has put in to create such a masterpiece! The story is a perfect mix of ancient secrets and mordern phases of India since the time of partition. Sanghi has beautifully covered lives of Arvind and Arbaaz through the time of 1950-2010, a time when India was trying to struggle to be a great nation. From falling leaders like Indira Gandhi, to fodder scams and peace talks between India and Pakistan, even 9/11! When you read the Sialkot Saga, you realize how much hard work in research and creativity has been put in by Sanghi!
All in all, The Sialkot Saga is something that you must definitely devour into! If you miss out on this, then it’s totally your loss!