Becoming oneselfSumit Sharma Sameer’s Prawas is a book about life choices and how they help give meaning to ideas of happiness and forgiveness.
Why do we do what we do? How often do we pose this question to ourselves? If we seldom introspect, then perhaps we have not understood ourselves and are also not making an attempt to understand others. Different situations give rise to different needs. And when those needs are not fulfilled, it potentially leads to conflict and misunderstanding. Especially between a husband and a wife. Examples abound. And it is this simple yet complex phenomena that the debutant writer Sumit Sharma Sameer’s Prawas is trying to dissect.
The novella Prawas is a story of a man in search of himself. Written from the perspective of the main character, Ali, a middle-aged Pakistani man with a wife and daughter, Prawas at times poses difficult questions about human behaviour and our society. This journey of self discovery takes readers from Pakistan to Canada making us reflect on your life decisions consistently.
Written in simple language, Sameer’s prose is airy and the novella can be finished in one sitting. Ali is a simple man who doesn't have big expectations in life. He wants to live a free life, however. He moves to Canada leaving his wife and daughter behind for he wants to give them a better living standard. He also wanted to escape the mundane realities of life in Pakistan wherein he found himself cooped up in his own thoughts.
Ali has frequent confrontations with his wife, who is 15 years younger than him. Financially too, there is much to be desired for Ali and his family. Amid this situation, Zara, Ali’s wife, asks him to leave Pakistan and go to Canada in search of a better life. For Zara, their fights start because the family is deprived—of a good lifestyle—for themselves and their child. And Zara’s solution to these problems is earning more money by Ali staying away from the family. Ali and Zara evaluate both the Canadain and Pakistani societies comprehensively. In doing so, it feels the writer is trying to reflect that as societies, while there are many differences, many similarities ties humans together too, regardless of their location.
When Ali moves to Canada, like the lives of most migrant workers, his time there is often hectic and lonely—perhaps a common theme in most writings pertaining to migration. His new life in Canada makes him feel alone but the choices he makes alongside help him unchain his heart.
That heart which had been yearning to love and be loved, understood and be comforted.
It's not like Ali is not reluctant about taking decisions for he has baggage—his wife and daughter, whom he has left behind. But temporarily, he thinks for himself. But the point here that Sharma’s Prawas clearly makes is that thinking for oneself need not be equated with not thinking about others who matter to us. Sometimes, things are not so linear and it is this non-linear path that we take at different trajectories in our lives that make human beings. The book effectively establishes the fact that humans will be full of contradictions and it is acknowledging these contradictions that will help us understand ourselves a little better, if not completely.
Ali is like all of us. Conflicted yet consoling oneself all along. Sharma’s Prawas take us on the journey of the self with Ali’s inner monologues being the highlight of the story. There aren't as many dialogues as there are monologues. Perhaps that could have been done purposely to pose various important questions about identity, life trajectory and choices throughout. The afterthoughts that come after a sentence feels like the writer’s personal voice/thought.
Prawas is a book about self-understanding and mustering the courage to forgive our loved ones for the mistakes they make. That is one of the key takeaways of the book. It reminds readers that the act of forgiveness becomes an integral part for life to go on. Oftentimes, we are mired in our calculations of who has done us good and who has done us bad. But Prawas’s Ali allows us to wallow in our discomfort and forgive ourselves and others for the actions taken under certain circumstances. Those decisions make only some parts of our identity: it does not form the whole of our personality. Meaning, there is ample space for grey areas in our lives and relationships and that must be acknowledged.
The novella has short and simple sentences. But at times the author weaves long, meandering sentences to make a point which sometimes can feel like the author is trying to philosophise a little too much. Perhaps, it would have been best to leave some things up to the reader for they need not be forced to rationalise everything. The novella also leaves a lot of space for storytelling and character development. The tracing of the mind of a single character can become overwhelming at times. But to conclude, Prawas is a book for those looking to find answers to questions about life decisions, relationships, mistakes and forgiveness.
Sumit Sharma Sameer
Price: Rs 400