‘A monk with a Gun’ is a novel authored by Amardeep Arun, who is also a dental surgeon by profession. This is a story about a ten-year-old boy – Aakash, who lives with his uncle, whom he (and everybody in village) calls Chacha.
The story begins as he starts recollecting his past – his uncle and his quest of finding answer to unanswered questions. These questions were partially the remnants of the stories told to him by his maternal grandmother and partially the chain reactions of his observations. One question that was the driving factor of his life was – How could the sun (which is similar to the size of the fingernail) fight with the (million times bigger) mountain? He always had the urge to climb up the mountain to watch the sun’s fight with the evil spirit. He wished to peep into the mountain stomach to find out how the two fought but could never gather the courage to accomplish the task.
The story progresses as he is destined to find answer following a unique discourse.
It is a comprehensive collection of thirteen chapters starting from a prologue describing the agony of a person suffering with acute pain but as the sun’s rays fall on his body he restarts to recollect a little strength. ‘Om’ was the only word on his lips. Such was the magic of the words that it started healing his wounds and his scars vanished.
The author seems to have a strong grip on his writing style and pen at the same time because he has used a perfect combination of word phrases to describe the pain without eating out unnecessary pages. The narrative is loaded with pearls of wisdom, many of which you might have learnt, heard or read before but the beauty of the writing style makes you feel that you are reading them for the first time and you get completely lost in a new world. As you continue to read, you will feel more enlightened and motivated with every paragraph. Some might get mistaken with the title and presume this to be a religious saga but it is not. It is a simple story put in simple words to pass on important messages of life in a simplistic manner.
The scenes seem to be written with utmost care because there are repeated transitions between old days and present days. Nowhere, in the whole manuscript, you could spot any break points or missing link except for one, when Ashwa has been addressed as Asha (I guess by mistake). As more and more characters are introduced the flavour of the chapter changes accordingly and it changes the aura surrounding you as well. Be it encounter with sages or with extremist freedom fighters, Amardeep has done true justice with all the characters with perfection, not leaving behind the animals as well.
The story runs on the backdrop of freedom struggle of India when the ending time of British era was approaching. Every strata of the society was giving their own bit of struggle and involvement to uproot the foreigners. This is an account of a young Monk; about how he fights with his past, struggles with his present, becomes a part of the freedom struggle in future, unknowingly and destines to be adorned with the title – A Monk with a gun.
Indeed a deadly combination but what interesting is that how these two contrasting elements come together and what affect do they leave on each other. Readers need to check for themselves.
A monk with a gun sounds ironical and somewhat on the similar lines looks the combination of dental surgeon writing fiction with a spiritual touch. It is something unusual, without any doubts. Now, after completed the reading, I would rename it as Midas touch.
This book secures top most position in my personal favourites from the collections of books that I have reviewed so far. I would like to re-read time and again (may be as a ritual to be followed on monthly basis ).
You should read this book to gain an insight into becoming a nice human being and rising above the boundaries of religion, color, caste, creed and nationality. As a bonus, you learn about the difficult times that revolutionaries faced while fighting with British.
I started reading this book for review purpose but as the chapters completed it became a self- enligtment journey. I started imbibing the teachings and preaching, which are beautifully incorporated within the script. I started becoming mature mentally along with Akash. A book worth a read. A high five!
About the characters
- Akash: is the protagonist. He is a ten-year-old boy. He lives with his uncle and they both serve Mr. Alfred, a British.
- Uncle (Chacha): He is Akash uncle (care-taker). He were not bound by blood relation but with a relation called humanity.
- Mrs. & Mr. Alfred: an affluent British family.
- Katheleen: Mrs. And Mr. Alfred’s daughter.
- Ashwa: a white mare, which was a true combination of beauty and power