‘The book does not leave any prints, neither on your heart nor on your mind’
Chandan Kumar Pathak’s ‘Footprints’ is a collection of 18 pieces of writings. Most of these pieces are very short. Some of these are fictions and some are real life incidents of author himself. According to the author, real life incidents are masked with imagination at a number of places. Though I detected a slight touch of ‘fine writing’ in the book, the book as a whole disappointed me. I would love to read a full length novel by Chandan Kumar Pathak as he certainly has the ability to weave the words into beautiful sentences. While one notices this skill in certain places in the book under review, reader doesn’t get connected to even a single story of the book. Like novels, short stories can also furnish an astonishing variety of subject matters, a diversity of characters and a whole gamut of modes and viewpoints. However, one should have the aptitude to achieve that and this is what we miss in this book. At the same time, we should also keep in mind that this is author’s first book.
Some of the stories in the book describe author’s childhood experiences. One of the stories titled ‘From the Diary’ tries to portray both the excitement and tension that prevail in a boy’s mind. In this story, we are taken into the world of a boy who is under pressure to fulfil his parents’ desire to perform well in the exams. This story ends with a subtle message which is quite relevant in the present society. In another story ‘My Childhood’ the author describes his troublesome nature of his childhood. A story titled ‘Stop This Child’s Cry’ shows how humans forget the child hidden in them and keep running after different goals to achieve success. One of the stories deals with an innocent driver’s attempts to learn English.
However, what interested me a lot in the book was the story titled ‘Were We More Advanced Earlier’. In this piece of writing, the author, on the basis of some excerpts from the Bhagwat Purana comes to conclusion that there existed a civilization in India that was far more advanced than today. Some of the arguments put forwarded in this chapter by the author are unreasonable. At the same time, the author seems to have forgotten about one of the oldest civilizations of the ancient time – the Harappan Civilization. This civilization is dated much earlier than the time of Bhagwat Purana. I think, it is better to pay attention to the archaeological evidences than to the literary evidences for which we have no proof.
Overall, this book was a mixture of both reminiscences and fiction. Many of the stories end abruptly, which makes you frustrating. However, there was certainly a potential to expand the subject matter in some of the stories.
The only thing which impressed me about this book is its cover. The cover of the book is done brilliantly and will certainly lure you in.