The books by Khushwant Singh have always been the subject of hot debates, you may either love him for his straightness, or hate him for his age defying moralities, but you simply can’t ignore the man. And anyways, it is quite difficult to remain aloof of an octogenarian, who is once again ready to create turbulence in the media, by exposing a few more well-kept (say, under exposed) secrets.
I was also bitten by this Khushwantmania, and I decided to check out at least one of his offerings, against all my better judgment, to decide whether to hate the writer or fall in love with his queer idea of procreation being the only possible occupation, recreation and ambition of the entire humanity.
With these highly ambitious goals, I picked up ‘Burial At Sea’. A novel about a business tycoon, Jai Bhagwan, who dies in the very first page of the novel, wishing his ashes to be scattered all over the sea, where his favorite yacht ‘Jai Bharti’ is usually moored. And, thus giving the novel its name.
The reader is then taken into the flash back, trying to find out the murderer of Jai Bhagwan and in the process, giving a painstakingly slow and detailed description of Jai Bhagwan’s childhood, adolescence, and youth, with the story not moving an inch beyond the casual dates and flings, experienced by the inept, morally swinging hero of our novel.
The boring narrative is then somewhat spiced up with the entrance of Maa Durgeshwari, a fearful tantric, self proclaimed god-woman into the dull, stagnant life of Jai Bhagwan, and introducing his daughter Bharti falling in love with a yoga teacher!
A few pages later, the author takes great pains to convince that Jai Bhagwan is envied by many of his business rivals, baying for his blood and tries to convert the slush-mush love story into a suspense thriller. Though, even after the climax, I have not found out the real murderer and I am not even interested in finding it out, as the boring narrative and unimaginative digressions dampened my detective spirit and I was just happy to have finished off the novel, without reaching any conclusion.
I could see the glimpses of the super flop Rakhi Sawant starrer ‘Budda Mar Gaya’ in the novel and I don’t blame you if you don’t remember the movie. As I am myself trying hard to forget ever watching the movie or reading this novel.
I have made my choice, this is the first and last time, I have read any of Khushwant’s much talked about scintillating stuff. Definitely, a meaningless babble. Give it a miss, unless you are a hardcore Khushwant fan.