Book Review | Journey from Guwahati to Machhiwara: A Few Short Stories | TheliteraturetodayDecember 14, 2019
A simple, short, quick and reader-friendly read, Rajiv Bakshi’s “Journey from Guwahati to Machhiwara” is a series of short stories wherein the author talks about different ideas and experiences he has had throughout his life as a banker professionally and also playing different roles as a son, husband, father, uncle, friend etc. Sometimes the stories seem connected and non fictional in nature while at times they’re clearly born from his imagination and are pure fiction. All that he can recall from different junctures of his life, he writes about those events and incidents in a short and concise manner. The thing that adds beauty to his work is his usage of short sentences. Such style of writing can also be indicative of the bed time story technique.
As he begins, the series seems more from an autobiographical viewpoint but off and on he changes and switches to different subjects. Sometimes he attempts to make the reader laugh at the expense of himself or his humor. Most of the time, his characters are more based on his real life experiences and he even mentions them directly at times. He has a different and unique style of writing as he tries to recall his times as a banker and write which makes him more identifiable with the common man. He proudly tells the world of his being a retired banker and for sure all bankers understand the banking terms he uses here and there. Sometimes he appears as a representative of the banker’s community giving voice to all the different situations they go through in their respective careers. The everyday office goer and particularly a banker can easily relate to what the author writes and laugh along.
In stories like “My first day in Gauhati-Start of the first innings”, “Encounter with wasps” there is a glimpse of the author’s life as a banker. In an attempt to write short stories, the author has managed to write a series of the experiences he has had throughout his life and career and humorously record them into the book. The language of the text is simple and due to the colorful and humorous nature of the work it can be read by young children as well as adults. He gives advice from his experiences in stories like “Husbands- Beware do not shop”. There is the element of humor and advice at the same time used by the author.
There are illustrative images used by the author which sometimes add to the vividness of his detail and sometimes give a new dimension to his thoughts. Those images help the reader to visualize what otherwise the author was trying to suggest and depict. The giants of English literature have some influence on him and this is apparent as he uses the titles of British writers like Robert Browning and Thomas Hardy which also suggests him to be a reader of not just contemporary writers but also well-known renowned names in English literature. Being well read is one important factor for a writer to grow and mature and Bakshi seems to be following that closely. The cover picture of the book shows a person sitting with a pen and paper and is looking at a site in front of him. It seems like he is travelling by train and thinking what to write. This pretty much matches with the subject of the author which is journey. The journey motif seems to be recurrent throughout the text as the writer goes on his life’s journey in the backward direction in order to recall things and write about them lucidly.
Perhaps the most humorous story is “Husbands- Beware do not shop” where the author recalls and laughs and also makes the readers laugh at his folly out of innocence and at the same time also successfully gives advice to all husbands to not shop and let their wives buy whatever they feel is right. He also tries to highlight the fact that the roles of men and women are more or less defined and they should try performing them with utmost discipline.
Other stories like “The Facebook friends”, “The Good samaritan”, “The Indian love story” and “The Samjhauta Express” are fine specimens of the writer’s craft and skill. Some of his humorous stories include “Me and my mobile”, “Resolutions are made to be broken” and “Morning tea @8:12 am”. The interesting fact about these writings is that they are not stories exactly. Rather they are simple recordings of the author’s thought process. Since it is his maiden attempt, it can be predicted that as he writes more and more, he will get better and better at it. Overall, the appeal of the book to all ages cannot be debated, but the author can try experimenting even more with genres and write better pieces of work.