#TheBrownSahebs by Anupam Srivastava

The Brown Sahebs is a story about India’s freedom and how much we changed to be like what we had despised before our freedom. It was as if we had slowly absorbed all the shortcomings of our British rulers and now aped them to feel the same power and security.
The book is a commentary on the sad truth that plagues our society even today after 6 decades. The story is told through a journalist who has found the old diaries and papers of a Sadhu; Ekant Baba. It is a story of a father and son set against the backdrop of India’s freedom. It is sure to stir up a lot of controversy especially about the changes that did not take place after freedom.
“Swaraj is to be obtained by educating the masses to a sense of their capacity to regulate and control authority.
Swaraj is not Poorna Swaraj until all amenities are guaranteed to everyone under it.”

Is this still not true? The country still has so much to achieve, the book is a mirror to our society. Pratap is journalist who writes to raise the voice and consciousness of the nation seeing how is becoming complacent of the very things they were fighting while the British ruled India. That he is the son of a king does impact his life but he keeps trying to overcome it all. The royal life and his father the Raja of Teekra and even his seniors, all try to rein him in but he has the thirst of true freedom and equality in his blood and refuses to stop.
The book has it all; love, drama, cheating, suspense and of course politics. The story starts with the Raja trying to impress the British resident who arrives at his estate and brings along the Nationalist Leader Vidya Babu who fills his heart with political aspirations and dreams.
Soon enough they embark on the journey together, the Raja Daulat Singh becoming his right hand man.  In spite of being close, politics makes no true friends and raja is no exception to the intrigue and deception. His son and his family also get stuck in between as collateral damage.
There is a hint of romance between Pratap and Malati , simple promises that made an heart touching love story. The mesmerizing Malati who suffers much without any fault of hers make us realize that life is not fair. I was moved by what the lovers had to go through.
The author has a very expressive, crisp at times melodious writing. He describes so well that I had so many favorite sentences from the book.
“It cajoled and caressed, lovingly filling up cracks, bringing the dormant back to life. It turned the brown skeletal stumps into trees, got moss to gather under stones, layered the brown and yellow earth with green. The earth, until then kicked up as dust by any wandering wind, was clothed again.”
The book has its share of conspiracy and deceit, making it an interesting read. I enjoyed revisiting the past, learning about our country and how power shapes the individuals who once abhorred power. The love is woven so beautifully in the book, right from the Raja’s love for his wife and Pratap and the love triangle he is a part of.
I was very impressed with the way the story progressed and was surprised at the ending. The remorse, sadness and intrigue keep me turning the pages late into the night. It is not an easy, flashy read but a sublime, thought provoking read. If you find yourself wondering where is our nation going, what is the chosen path and where did we fail; can we make amends? This is the book for you to give India a second chance and find the true meaning of growth, independence and freedom and the equality we search for even today.

( © I received a copy of the book from the author, the review is my honest opinion.)

The Raja of Teekra, a dusty and forgotten kingdom near Lucknow, gets lucky when the British Resident visits him but also brings with him a leading revolutionary. The Raja enters India’s struggle for freedom and is rewarded with a berth in the cabinet of free India. He is shocked to see the ministers and officers living and operating like their imperial masters but is suitably rewarded for his silence. As he begins to enjoy the good life of Lutyens’ Delhi, the British capital which India’s freedom fighters abhorred, he faces only one adversary in his plans—his journalist son Pratap. A novel that will blow you away with its depiction of love, passion, intrigue and betrayal.
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About the Author 
Anupam Srivastava was born in Lucknow, India, where his novel, The Brown Saheb’s first part is set. However, he never lived there as his father and mother, Ashok and Veena Srivastava, lived in different parts of India. However, Anupam spent some of his childhood and most of his vacations in Lucknow where he flew kites and learnt about the craft of pigeon-flying. He went to a boarding school near Delhi, the Motilal Nehru School of Sports, Rai, where he played cricket but earned his college colours at St Stephen’s College, Delhi, in cross-country running. He studied English literature (BA Hons and MA), won the college annual poetry prize while pursuing his MA, and being sure his vocation was writing and journalism, became a journalist with The Times of India in 1993. In 1999, he was awarded the British Chevening scholarship by the British government.
In 1999, he left journalism to work with the United Nations Population Fund in India in communications. Subsequently, Anupam worked with Oxfam India Society, Unicef and other development agencies. The Brown Sahebs is his first novel and tells the story of India not taking off its colonial clothing even as it became a democracy.
Anupam is married to Radhika Srivastava, and they have two children who figure in his children’s novel, A Family Secret.
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