Often, we do not recognise that fate and destiny are perhaps the greatest story writers ever. They throw people together and then sit back and relish the aftermath. But, authors, on the other hand, are a diligent species. They craft ideas and mould characters. Then they introduce these characters and do not have the luxury of sitting back and relaxing. They instead have to create the aftermath while staying within the boundaries of the characters that they have created. Sometimes it is nail-bitingly intense, sometimes it gets a tad bit boring, sometimes they sweep us along into the rollercoaster that is their story. And Beyond Secrets fits rather snugly into the third category.
Beyond Secrets is primarily the story of Noel, a counsellor. He is someone who has had the luxury of a well-off family and, like most of us, does not have to worry about his next meal. Despite his father’s wishes he becomes a counsellor and takes some time off to volunteer at an orphanage, Aashiyana, in far-off Vadodara. Here he meets new people and learns to appreciate the things he had taken for granted until then.
The other important characters are Simin, who takes runs the orphanage and takes care of the children like her own; Nidhi, who comes to volunteer at Aashiyana from Dehradun; Appu and the other children of Aashiyana; and Pattu who is Noel’s friend and whose father is a trustee of the orphanage. Alka Dimri Saklani has fated these characters to meet at Aashiyana and from there has taken the story forward magnificently with a lot of twists and turns.
All of Alka’s characters are crafted beautifully. The reader gets to know them, what has defined them and where they come from. And these characters also stay true to their definition in the early chapters of the story. It is only when the ground shifts from under their feet that all of them go through change. The author has handled this phase with diligence and it shows in the writing. Noel goes off the rails. From denial, delusion and dejection to finally coming out of limbo – all this was well written. Nidhi and Pattu face their demons as well. And how they come out of it is interesting.
The author also manages to remind us of how we often tend to take things for granted. When Noel earns 750 rupees after a week, he thinks back to the time when he used to spend as much on just one meal, when he encounters the food at Aashiyana for the first time, or when he misses his parents – all these situations are handled with a nuance that is commendable. These are subtly written words that somehow manage to linger in your thoughts.
I haven’t lingered on the plot of Beyond Secrets because it is best left to be discovered. There are many interesting plot twists that will keep the reader engrossed. On the whole, Beyond Secrets is a complete package – good writing, interesting plot, well-defined characters, and a quick read as well. You can definitely finish it off in one afternoon. One thing’s for sure – Beyond Secrets does not disappoint on any quarter.
Reviewed by : Jayasree Bhargavan
Author(s): Alka Dimri Saklani
Publisher: Alka Dimri Saklani
Release: August 2017
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