A story of eternal friendship between Bholanath and Khudabaksh, regardless of their respective religions, Amit Majmudar’s Soar is set in World War I and is the need of the hour.
We figured this might not be enough to get you to pick up the book, hence, here are 7 reasons why you should read Soar:
Friends who pray together, stay together
‘When it was time for Khudabaksh, a Mussulman, to do namaz, Bholanath’s was the second hand raised before his closed eyes. And when Bholanath, a Hindu, rattled off his Shiva stotras, Khudabaksh pressed his palm in place so his friend prayed with joined hands.’
They spoke pigeon but confidently volunteered as translators
‘…an officer from the Royal Messenger Corps came looking for a translator. Since both of them spoke pigeon, or at least the dialect of pigeon spoken in their native Junagadh, Bholanath and Khudabaksh volunteered.’
Their conversations quite evidently provide a sense of comic relief
‘ “I remembered what the Brahmin told me before I left,” he said. “I lost all caste by crossing the sea. So I am all contamination, through and through—how can soil soil me now?” ‘
There’s a non-communal pet squirrel, Kabira, involved who consumed a balanced diet of shlokas and suras
‘Bholanath dropped the pages and grabbed the rope to steady Khudabaksh. Before the pages (drifting lazily, back and forth) could reach the basket floor, the squirrel darted under them at top speed and caught them. They vanished into her mouth like snowflakes caught on her tongue.’
They prioritized their friendship & breakfast over discussing a potential partition
‘ “What if, some day, Hindus fall on Mussulmans, and Mussulmans fall on Hindus?” … Once Hindus and Mussulmans are in two separate places, how will we go out on our feast-day binges? “Maybe Mussulmanistan wasn’t a wise idea after all.” “Do you know what is a good idea?” “What?” Khudabaksh smiled broadly. “Breakfast.” ‘
Through their mindless banter, they were wise enough to propage that a war never ends
‘ “A war doesn’t even end then. After the last soldier finishes screaming, the other soldier can still go on groaning. A war ends only when prime ministers write their names on a piece of paper.” “If prime ministers were as wise as children, all wars would be fought with pistols.” “And they’d be over by sunset, too. Or earlier, if someone brought out a kite.” ‘
Over and above everything, the book highlights the helplessness of the poor to the point where they had to join the military to make ends meet
‘The money is why they had done it, or rather, why the women in their lives had pushed them to do it, Khudabaksh’s wife and Bholanath’s mother. The nawab of Junagadh had promised fifty troops to a proposed 1st Royal Gujarati regiment. As an incentive to his subjects, he announced a bonus of one hundred rupees—more than two good-for-nothings like Bholanath and Khudabaksh would bring home all year.’
Amit Majmudar’s Soar, is a humorous read that has been able to deliver a very important message of friendship soaring above all else through Khudabaksh and Bholanath’s mindless banter. Since it is set in World War I, you will come across scenic depictions and their conversations that are bound to make you realize that war is pointless- no one wins.
Do give it a read and tell us what you think!