Author: Sanchit Gupta
Publisher: Niyogi Books
Publication date: 15 Nov, 2016
Book length: 284 pages
Inspired by true events, this riveting narrative traces the lives of Safeena Malik, Deewan Bhat and Bilal Ahanagar, three childhood friends who grow up in an atmosphere of peace and amity in Srinagar, Kashmir, until the night of 20 January 1990 changes it all.
While Deewan is forced to flee from his home, Safeena’s mother becomes ‘collateral damage’ and Bilal has to embrace a wretched life of poverty and fear. The place they called paradise becomes a battleground and their friendship struggles when fate forces them to choose sides against their will.
Twenty years later destiny brings them to a crossroads again, when they no longer know what is right and what is wrong. While both compassion and injustice have the power to transform lives, will the three friends now choose to become sinful criminals or pacifist saints?The Tree with a Thousand Apples is a universal story of cultures, belongingness, revenge and atonement. The stylized layered format, fast-paced narration and suspenseful storytelling makes for a powerful, gripping read.
I received this book from VInfluencers in exchange of an honest and unbiased review.
As a child I had always heard stories about the beauty of Kashmir, a piece of heaven on Earth. I have had always dreamt of visiting it but till date haven’t had the chance. With passing time and gaining more knowledge about reality, I came to realise, even Heaven has it’s part of chaos and Kashmir is no exception. Being the borderline of Pakistan and India, though an essential part of India is often debated by the Pakistanis to be their region. Kashmir has for many years been facing torture and torment, the people are exposed to disturbing situations and suffer to the extreme. It is quite normal to see any article on Kashmir’s condition on paper almost everyday. While we sit with the paper in our hand, thinking of the hardship of those people, there’s not really many scopes of finding a solution.
Authors throughout India have tried quite a no.of times to compose stories based on this condition of Kashmir but not many have such an expressive impact on readers like me than this book “The Tree with a Thousand Apples” has. It may be because of the three protagonists and their lives.
The story begins with two people, Safeena and Bilal rescuing Deewan from a police minibus. And with a jolt we are brought many years back into the childhood of the three where we see two happy families, Muslim and Hindu, eating, smiling, enjoying life together. But life is not always happy-go-lucky. For the struggles of Kashmir reaches the three children soon enough. To a point where they had to struggle between deciding whether to be sinners or tainted saints.
‘Stand for your rights’,
You tell me,
And when I do
You beat me down
Break my bones
And crush my soul?
I nay raise my voice
Close my fist, and demand;
Or seek and desire
With polite words and a patient heart
So that you and I can live in peace
Forever, I wish;
You should pray
I choose the latter.
This little poem got me goosebumps. Such an intense, bold and challenging one. Generally when I read a storybook, if any poems in between, to me they do not seem to be much of importance. But this very poem had my blood boiling and you might thing I am exaggerating but if you read through the story, you will be saying the same thing like me.
The author has done an outstanding job in presenting a well formed story, based on true events and incidents that at some point even I could relate to. The book was impossible for me to put down ti the very end (and I have exams so…). The whole journey of the three protagonists from their childhood to maturity with time and experience has been portrayed beautifully. Though a big no.of characters within a story can sometimes confuse a reader, the accuracy and individuality of each character was written down so distinctively that I never had problem understanding.
Overall, the story is unnerving (in a good day), bold, extremely realistic, heroic and makes one question the boundaries between sin and sane. The book is like a carnival of emotions from the first page till the end. With the cover presented the richest fruit of Kashmir, the very first look of the book is the accurate representation of the thousands of lives woven into the roots of the land.
I would absolutelyrecommend everyone to read it.
About the Author:
Born and brought up in the hills of Himachal Pradesh, Sanchit Gupta began his career as a part-time copywriter with an advertising agency in Mumbai. He went on to co-found his own theatre group, worked as a freelance film screenwriter and as executive producer–fiction for a leading television network. His short stories have been published in several esteemed publications and literary journals and have won acclaim in leading literary festivals and online forums. One of his film scripts (fiction) has been long-listed in a globally reputed screenwriters’ lab. He has worked with All India Radio as a talk show host and regularly features in poetry recitals at Prithvi Café, Mumbai. This is his debut novel.
Apart from being a writer, he is a brand management professional with a wide range of brand building and communication development experience across FMCG, automobile and media industries. His works explore his fascination for global cultures, societal structures, vagaries of the world and the human mind. He welcomes interaction @sanchit421. Find out more about the author and his work at http://www.sanchitgupta.in