A story that takes the reader on a poignant journey
Book Review: A Thousand Dreams Within Me Softly Burn by Sahil Sood
Published by Woven Publishers; Price: 200; Pages: 118
Book Cover: The book cover is enticing. It matches with the concept that has been brought up in the book.
About the Book: I always try to understand love and have been reading quite a few poems and novellas. It’s good to know different perspective on love from various authors and poets. Sometimes I nod at those words written and at times I couldn’t agree more through my own personal experiences. Nowadays when I get to interview some from the LGBTQ personalities, I often wonder what love means to them. What do they feel about relationships, longings? I always wanted to grab a book or wanted to read someone’s work which has been written on these similar lines until I got a chance to read Sahil Sood’s “A thousand dreams within me softly burn” by Woven Publishers.
Though the book is a work of fiction, the emotions are portrayed in a true manner. Though it was difficult to follow the characters in the first chapter however I made up my mind to continue reading through and found it quite gripping till the end. My curiosity to know more about the protagonist, Saaransh or Siddharth grows as I complete each chapter.
The book starts with a mesmerizing letter from Gautam, a twenty-two years old writer, who expresses his deepest feelings for Siddharth. His letter shows his longing for romance which gets deeper with Siddharth’s old essay on Thumri and also led searching for him. His search ends only when Siddharth replied to his email described at the end of the book.
Siddharth stays in a remote village and is finding hard to complete his manuscript. He works as a school teacher and follows a solitary existence. During his stay, he meets Phil, a young Jewish traveler from Missouri in a cafe in Manali and laments on his difficulty on having his kinship with his Christian girlfriend because of orthodoxy, religion being the barrier.
Siddharth’s letters to himself are the answers to their longings and express compassion for love. He mentions romance as a strong force until one gets to know the limitation. Romance ignites the desire to embrace, to unite, to find comfort and support in each other’s arms until it enters the boundaries of physical limitations which results in violence and confusion. The limitations give self-doubt which is put to rest only when one finds solace in his partner’s chest. According to the author, Romance may not be a solution to the limitations but yes, it is a ray of hope to the hopeless restless souls and definitely a cure to the endless sufferings.
The author crafted a beautiful story called “Thumri” to make us understand the essence of love, its beauty, its devastation. Thumri is all about a couple- Saaransh and Akshay who meet online. Both are compassionate with eyes full of desires during their first meet although doubts did exist in their minds. This is quite natural as Saaransh already had a heartbreak and Akshay has never been in love. Both the characters are confused not knowing what’s next. However, they expressed hope of meeting in near future.
“I want to see you again,” Saaransh said, in a bemused tone, looking at him.
“Why?” Akshay asked.
“I don’t know,” Saaransh replied, unable to take his eyes off him.
“You don’t know?”
“I don’t know…”
The author in his second letter expresses how one wouldn’t get to know the other’s importance until the latter separates or vanishes forever. The childhood story of Jacky that he reminisced is a longing for something he is attached to, which he himself didn’t know when that existed. As human beings are creatures of habit, with time we never know how connected we would become with the one we love, their stench would dissolve in our blood. It would become impossible to even think of someone so close getting detached from our life. it takes some time to get to the normalcy.
Saaransh and Akshay meet again. Akshay allows Saaransh to permeate into his life, introduces his friends to Saaransh. And Saaransh had already started feeling special and that night helped them to get a bit closer than before. The romance begins, Saaransh becomes cheerful as someone strokes the paintbrush with all the bright colours on his dull, plain, melancholic canvas.
As days pass by, they meet again and things becoming better, they both could see a ray of hope in their lives. However, they are still afraid of society but does the body know any limitation? Akshay’s skin permeates in Saaransh’s and they both could feel the warmth. Gentle kisses, tender nibblings turned into passionate lockings. The mind gets horrified at the thought of orthodox and hypocritical society but love wins over any hatred and boundaries.
The author explains how one’s body gets into the trap of its own desires searching for love. The desires to satisfy the sexual needs let one become the victim of its own instincts. It’s only loving that help one liberates from the nuances of desires. Love liberates one’s soul, longings and from the burden, one heart is suffering from.
The author beautifully makes the readers understand how powerful the word “Acceptance” is. Be it our body, the differences, our problems or anything that matters, if we accept, things would seem better. Acceptance is the answer to all our problems. When one is disturbed, it is because of some person or anything that surrounds us, which is not acceptable, and hence we won’t find peace until we accept the fact, which may be related to a person, a place or a thing. This has been illustrated in one of the letters of the author where he describes Milan Kundera’s work. The story of Tomas and Tereza is the perfect example of how one can find solace when one accepts. After having a tough life, finally, the couple decided to shed the burden and led the life of light. They move to the countryside, filled their lives with simple pleasures and most importantly, accepts their existence in whatever form it is. But first we need to accept ourselves, we need to embrace our body.
The past exists even though we consciously want to erase it but it’s true that it entails with our present. I can’t agree more with the author’s thoughts on the present being the past acting on itself again. We should always look forward. It’s like working on our own deeds to have a better present and future. I would like to quote a line from one of his letters, “Add more, multiply less, and above all, accept yourself.”
He also mentioned that one can be ashamed of the past, being a self-contained person, but love changes everything. It not only makes one feel special but also entails respect. However, unfortunately, things never go the same. The initial warmth changes into a burden and one’s body strolls from one alleyway to another with the hope of finding love but what one receives is the false promises of togetherness, playing safe (juxtaposing loyalties), and a longing for romance and happiness that only love can ponder. The author horrified by the suicidal and depressing thoughts when one of his friends commits the sin of taking her own life. However, even though he can’t be with his partner but longes to be with him.
In reply to Gautam’s email, Siddharth unmasks many truths about life and love, be it the pressure during the childhood days, the frustrated adults failing constantly of having a perfect match or a family man whose kids dislike him. There are many problems in each stage of this entire life. The author advises that if one indulges oneself in small acts of kindness and compassion in our day to day life, we can somehow help ourselves in getting rid of the lonesomeness we struggle with.
He also stresses the fact that love won’t always remain the same. The compassion slows down gradually as we move along but we are wrong in pinning our hopes over the first thrill. However, this ignorance frustrates us and leads to confusion. We begin to search for a better person and to our surprise and difficulty, we will find many people we are surrounded with. To survive this period of bewilderment is itself rewarding as love needs patience and understanding- accepting the way we are, our body, our strengths, and weaknesses. Thus, we should try in finding the best in our partner, the one we truly love, rather finding the best partner. This, in turn, helps to fall in love with ourselves over and over again and there is no better feeling than loving your own self.
Conclusion: Love is not as easy as it sounds. It entails understanding, support, longing, frustration and what not! but we should not give up. As love will peak when you least expect it. This book is a great read for the ones who would love to know the deeper secrets of love and happiness.
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