05 March 2009

The Assassin's song - M.G. Vassanji

Karsan Daggarwalla is like many Indian boys of his time; he dreams of playing cricket for his country; he studies English at the nearest colonial holdover academy; and his family is torn between the historical plight of Hindus and Muslims in his country. In one way though, he is unlike any other of his friends: he is heir to a spiritual throne that has been handed down through his family for 700 years. Karsan-ji loves his Bapu-ji, the current Pir Bawa, but he has no desire of succeeding him.

In this light, Karsan stands at the confluence of two great historical streams, as he struggles between the spiritual realm of his Sufi ancestral heritage at PirBaag and the modern secular passion he is exposed through his Western readings.

Vassanji has crafted a magical tour de force, in which the reader is haunted by medieval mysticism while drawn to the plight of a young boy who struggles with religion, family, heritage and his own intimate desires and frailties.

He told my parnt he saw an aura over me. Tha pleased my father, especially. Bu perhaps Raja only felt sorry for me, for the burden I carried, and thought to bring a little of the fun and joy of the world into my life. This much is certain, though: he was the first to know that one day I would leave.