Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Book Review : Only One Life to Give

Title : Only One Life to Give
Author : Arun Kaul
Publisher : Frog Books
ISBN : 978-93-82473-76-3

I picked up this book to read just before turning in at night after an activity-full day. I was sure I would not be able to keep my eyes open beyond a couple of pages. But I was so wrong. Once you start a story, it is hard to leave it in the middle.

Arun Kaul opens a window and invites readers to peak into the life that he lived, through a set of short stories. The stories are wisely categorized under four sections. While 'Touching the Sky' has anecdotes from his professional life, some personal experiences are being shared in 'Within the Family'. The other two sections : 'Strangers in the Fold' and 'Women - What it Takes' bring to us some memoirs from the lives of other individuals. Same strings hold all these tales together - the strings of life values, inspiration, dedication, emotion, compassion, sincerity and empathy. Readers get an interesting opportunity to meet - philanthropy personified, a free spirit defying every shackle thrown her way, an individual embracing extreme atonement for his sin, a great administrator-facilitator-patriot, enormity of a mother's sacrifice, uprightness of a villager; and many more. 

We all create and become a part of many stories as we live our lives and when we look back these accounts appear prominently on the screen of our memories. Arun Kaul has collected these images from his memory screen and weaved them beautifully into a series of tales in 'Only One Life to Give'. 

Personally I liked the first section of the book the most. Although the personal section 'Within the Family' should have touched the heart strings the most, it falls short of doing so. Chronology of some events are described repetitively at various places which pushes the narrative to the drab side. Moreover, the abruptness of the personal story of mistrust and betrayal is sure to leave readers with bad taste
in the mouth.  Barring these two downers, the rest of the stories are a delight to read.

A post-graduate in Literature and Management, Arun Kaul made a career in Indian Air Force, followed by working in private sector in various capacities. More on him here.

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