Book Review | The Convict | The Literature TodayOctober 5, 2020
Books with a plot of substance are the kind that stands the test of time and are remembered for the content that they have and the message that they intend to convey. “The Convict” by Rakesh Srivastava on the surface, may seem to be a simple story of a woman as projected by the author. But, on diving into the narrative and getting involved as it progresses, the readers understand that there is a lot more in addition to the plot’s surface meaning. They get to read between the lines and understand not just the different spheres of knowledge that the author has but also his critical thinking and this, his art of conveying everything without imposing anything on the readers’ minds.
As “The Convict” begins, the readers have a different sort of expectation from the title. But whatever the readers think does not even form half of the book. The content the author shares is way beyond the expectations of the readers and far from their anticipations. Through the character of Dr. Rekha Kapoor, the protagonist, the author shows the cruelty and injustice of the system to a dedicated and devoted individual and the sufferings because of the mistakes of the others. The readers cannot help but sympathize with the renowned doctor’s fate, yet they hope that life will bring something better to her. Through her tragedies and sufferings, Dr. Rekha becomes a representative of any human being as life is not about the happy times rather, the sad times form an equal part and sometimes much more. This makes her story universal and leaves no chance to be restricted to any particular gender.
In the space of the novel, more than a decade of Dr. Rekha’s life is captured and the readers get to see how she silently suffers twice for the same charges despite not having done anything even once. That is how the author highlights the role of fate or destiny. At the same time, on a social level, the author also gives a hint of how society does not accept individuals who work hard and want others also to do justice to their work. As a result, they become opportunists and turn the situation against them by politicizing things and resorting to one of the most common ways, lying. This is how things go with Dr. Rekha when the nurse, Rosy and Dr. Anoop plan things against her and take advantage of the opportunity they get.
Also, through the narrative of “The Convict”, Srivastava shows the unpredictability of life and the fact that the world is a small place after all. He shows how destiny can play games and how karma does its role in people’s lives based on their doings through the lives of almost all the characters depicted in the novel. In this manner, he shows the depth of life. On the other hand, through the Mittal couple’s characterization, he also shows the book’s other side, human nature. He shows the negativity and jealousy and the extent to which it can take a person to. This reinforces the applicability of Alexander Pope’s satirical quote, “A little Knowledge is a dangerous thing”. Apart from this, the dreadful effects of assumptions and judgment without detailed knowledge and awareness of facts. The combined effect of this is seen on Dr. Rekha who becomes a victim of her circumstances and also such people.
The readers can find multiple layers of meanings attached to the narrative and decode the situations. When they think that the end of the story is close, they see that a significant portion of the book remains to be read. This fuels their curiosity, and they can’t help but stay glued to the book for a longer time. The author also displays his craft in the time to time surprise elements he packs the book with. The readers get thrilled and excited on the unexpected turn of events and can also relate them to life in the next instant. All this, combined with a swinging narrative of first and third-person also makes the book interesting. Most of the time, they remain the audience, but sometimes, they do have the urge to get personally involved in the book’s system. Even when the narrative shifts to the third person, the readers become more attentive and interested in hearing what the author has to say.
The recommendation of “The Convict” to any particular set of readers would be next to doing injustice to the book. The lovers of fiction content who want to have an interaction character involved in different fields of work and equally complicated lives should try reading this book.