Saturday, December 10, 2005

“Two Lives” – Part One

In the dual biography “Two Lives”, Vikram Seth takes us through not only the lives of the two protagonists, but also through those events, sequences and geographies that they touched, or were touched by. Somewhere in the middle of the book, the author does seem to digress from the “two lives” in question; but a the story progresses, we realize the growing importance of the reality that our lives, are not really just our own, but an intense, intertwined interplay of, among other seemingly complex things, even those inconsequential whiffs of air that we breathe in and casually breathe out.

The story moves mainly through documents and old letters that the author has gathered. It is through this (now almost non-existent) mode of communication that we witness the emotions that had to be so carefully inked, knowing full well that a postcard would take at least a week to reach its intended recipient. In this e-age, where relations change dramatically, in a matter of days, it is, for a change, interesting to look at life through pen and mere paper.

The author does describe, in detail, contemporary events, such as the political scenario in India, the second world war, British politics, anti-Semitism, Nazism and of course Auschwitz. The events at this last-mentioned horrendous location are covered in a very poignant way, wherein the author delves into the gruesome, painful and gory details of what happened to the victims of the Holocaust, with particular reference to a close relative of one of the “lives” being covered. The author maintains a context throughout, somewhat akin to what we see in Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children.

(End of Part - I)

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