Breach of Faith by Romen Basu is a novel based on the lives of street urchins, eking out a desolate life on the pavements and slums of crowded cities, vulnerable to the evil influence of drug peddlers and anti social elements.
The story begins on the railway platform of Delhi, with a young boy, Mithu desperately begging for sympathy and food of passersby. Soon, he is joined by another unfortunate victim of fate, Munni. Their lives get entangled in a criss-cross web of fatal drugs, gnawing hunger and meaningless existence, with just two of them supporting each other in the rickety boat of life, stranded in the vast ocean of indifferent humanity.
Before they can even guess, Mithu and Munni become friends, with Munni effortlessly slipping into the role of protector. She tries to uplift Mithu’s life by offering him a residence with her benefactor, a bangle vendor in Old Delhi. For a short time, Mithu contemplates honest life, but soon gets bored of its dry routine. He runs away to Mumbai, attracted by glitz and glamor of Bollywood and is soon enough, hobnobbing with the known criminals and dreaded gangs.
Whereas, Munni’s fate takes a fortunate turn, she is married into a rich Mumbai Brahmin family. In short, the destiny gives a golden chance to these kids to improve their condition and be transformed from haggardly beggars to respectable honest citizens. But, it appears improbable if they would ever be able to get out of their slimy existence or continue to fall on the slippery road enough to mark them for life.
In 300 page long narrative, Romen attempts to highlight the miserable conditions of poor orphans, exposing how vulnerable these innocent kids are in front of the ugly monstrous criminals of our society. But, despite, good intentions of Basu, I could somehow not connect with his story. It appeared to be a linear, steady falling of characters. The protagonists appeared shallow, and despite numerous attempts by the social activists and good intentioned Samaritans, Mithu and Munni seemed to be helping the Devil, by falling into the charms of easy life and money.
Not even once, their conscience pricks them, and particularly Mithu remains oblivious to goodness around him and betrays her best friend, without battling an eyelid. A story that began with an innocent Mithu, ends with a hardened criminal, who is not sorry for his ‘Breach of Faith’. It could have been a gripping story on the plights of unfortunate kids a la Vikas Swarup of Slumdog Millionaire fame, but, somewhere the story loses its focus and is reduced to a tragedy of two wooden characters, wasting their lives in drug induced stupor. Just a so so novel, vacillating between tragedy and drama!