Book: The Last Wave
Author: Pankaj Sekhsaria
Publisher:Harper Collins Publishers India
Genre: Factual fiction adventure story
In One Line: It is a story of truths, adventure, friendship, love and hope.
Plot Setting: I have been to the Andamans at least four times. But all in the pre-tsunami era. And every time I have visited, I have fallen in love with the place even more. It is pristine and glorious. The author, even though his descriptions are limited to a small portion of the island, manages to draw a beautiful picture through his words. The descriptions are detailed and well thought of.
Characterisation: The author has very deftly weaved facts into a story by introducing characters like Harish – the researcher, Seema – the local born anthropologist who returns to the island and to the Institute for Island Ecology for her PhD, David Baskaran – the senior biologist on his annual crocodile survey and Professor Kutty – the biologist who finds out that logging is slowly changing the nature of the rain forest. But the real protagonists of this tale don’t have names. They are a tribe. The Jarwa clan of the Andamans. The story is about them – their hardships and their lives. When the author writes about how the policemen misuse their powers by getting into the Jarwa reserve area and show disrespect to their women, your heart goes out to the tribal people.
Language: The language is simple and easy to comprehend. The heavy dose of facts has been balanced with sprinkling of friendly banger and emotions like love and friendship. Overall, the flow of the narrative is smooth and articulate.
Book Cover Art: It was too green! Maybe the Andamans is a land of greenery, but that didn’t make the cover an impressive one. the Jarwa man and the the crocodile that were thrown in didn’t add any brownie points to the book either. Honestly? If I didn’t like the Anadamans so much, I would have never picked up the book simply by the cover of it.
Learning From The Story: This story is not merely fiction. It is about actual facts and historical evidences. Although I usually find it difficult to read stories of this genre, this one kept me engaged. There’s a lot that we can learn about the Jarwa traditions, their language and their cultural practices. it also tells us about the ‘big wave’ and how it destroyed the island, never forgetting to highlight how the islanders picked up the pieces and start all over again.
Areas Of Improvement: Pankaj Sekhsaria is a researcher and a veteran ANI-specialised activist. Hence, even though he has written this work of fiction, in portions it tends to sound a little journalistic and didactic. The pace of the story is also very slow. The end too, even if needed, was a predictable climax. it seemed a little hurried as well. This book should ideally be read for the facts that it gives rather than as a light hearted read.
What Is ‘Said By Not Saying’: When an author writes a story, there is always an underlying meaning that it carries. This is the ‘said by not saying’ part. This story’s ‘said by not saying’ part says – life is very transient. You cannot take it for granted. Anything can happen at any time. So, cribbing and wallowing in self pity is not worth it. Also if you want to do something, or say something, then don’t wait for the right time. ‘Now’ is the right time.
My Reaction When I Finally Closed The Book:
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