Behind the Scenes
Lost and Found in Banaras is entirely a work of fiction, which is based on the predicaments of the forlorn child widows in Banaras. These women are a plaintive sight with no dearth to the plethora of the adversities they face in this obsolete culture. At the receiving end of the misgivings of an abrasive society, the dichotomy between religion and spirituality further ostracises them from the life they ought to be living. The protagonists, Brinda and Debi, fight a valiant battle against these acrimonious oddities and stave off the call of the flesh that they could be pushed into; their hearts waging a war against the sensibilities of the society that are so severely sedimented into its culture.
While writing this book, I was gripped by a vexed question: What is the law of karma, and whether there is a good reason to believe in expiating, the longing for salvation and its significance in this hedonistic age? The story is set around Banaras, the most ancient city in the world, still shrouded in the mysteries, the myths and the legends that surround it. Pilgrims and tourists throng this place to attain nirvana. The want of peace in afterlife puzzled me all the more.
Would we want to be born again?
And what is salvation to us?
Banaras has infinite etymologies surrounding it, the myths, the tryst for redemption and expiation from the cycle of life and death, but what sense does it make to the common man of today? Do we still want it?
What fascinated me further was that where death is feared in other parts of the world, it is Banaras’ currency. It is welcomed like lucrative business. As the story wove on, I felt that Banaras fights the stereotypes in more ways than one. That is when I had Sia and Uday visit Banaras for reasons entirely different from the traditional. The former to her parental home, long left. And, Uday to relive his atavistic fears but in the name of a professional venture. But unbeknownst to them, they both had a punishing past, waiting to be unfolded. Does their sojourn help them find a cogent emotional fix? Does Kashi still render nirvana to the empathy starved and what significance does the law of karma hold for the contemporary debauched world to which Sia and Uday belong?
Lost and Found in Banaras draws its inspiration from reality, albeit it is entirely a work of fiction yet it does not circumvent the enormity of these remissive subjects and breaks the paradox. The aphorisms from the Bhagwad Gita further reinstate the law of karma. There is an unexpected denouement to the storyline as a new season is uncorked into the characters’ lives, which never seemed quite as possible when they had set off on their journey.
The title Lost and Found in Banaras, applies to the answers to the vexed questions that life raises again and again and a discovery that freedom from the corroding past is what salvation is. Sia and Uday and all those who tread this journey with them find their answers through each other, as entwined destinies come undone in the face of adversities and realisations and fate offers them a chance to expiate, not by death but by life.
And, what do the child widows discover as they in their irrelevant existence just treaded their lives as mere white shadows in clear darkness? Conveniently unseen and forgotten but ubiquitously ambient, just like the white shadow of karma, something that we are never a moment without…
And it led them to find what they had lost, in Banaras.
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