Today up for review on The Book Files is The 365 Days by Nikhil Ramteke. I received an e-copy of the book from World’s DNA.
Shijukutty is an ordinary Malyali fisherman from a small fishing village called Vizhinjam in Thiruvananthpuram, Kerala. Tired and also fearful of his bleak future as a fisherman, he gets enticed by the prospect of changing his life by migrating to the land of gold: Dubai. When his neighbour, Sidique and his opulent lifestyle further cement the plan, he takes a leap and does what thousands of other Malyalis had done: Travel to the Persian Gulf in the search of a better future. He faces hardships and discomforts but still holds on to his belief system to keep sane. However, when the situation in the Gulf worsens, Shiju finds himself crumbling. This is the story of an ordinary man in the search for an extraordinary lifestyle who realises that the desert usually holds quite a few tricks up her sleeves of mirages and facades.
I grew up in Bahrain and the setting of the story is something I could relate to from the very start. Although I was fortunate enough to not face any of the hardships in the novel, the mentioned atrocities were not exactly unknown to us. I had seen women who had left behind their families to work for rich sheikhs, men who had to work on construction sites for 18 hours in the blistering 55 degree heat, amplified by the desert, throngs of aspiring people who usually went back him dejected and so on.
Shiju here is an atheist and this is the true test of his beliefs. If you don’t believe in God, whom do you blame for the hardships you face? From a seemingly boring life, entranced by his neighbour’s wealth, he decides that his future is in Dubai and leaves his wife and son behind. Ushered in to a contract with the employer, which can end any time the employer wishes, Shiju realises that the path to a better future would be crueler than the sea: Dry and tedious. Thrown in together into a small space with other workers, the golden dream slowly dissipates. The small cramped space, no benefits, atrocious working conditions only aggravate and amplify the small baggage each of them carries. Added to that, the famous depression in the Gulf that lead to millions of relocations and layoffs, he understands that a sea-ling isn’t destined to be a desert-farer.
I absolutely loved everything about the book : The characters, the plot, the setting, the stark and bleak reality, the no nonsense straight to the point language and the writing style. However, it did need a little trimming here and there and grammatical glitches were prominent. The formatting of the Ebook left a lot to be desired and the broken sentences were a turn off. But this in no way hampered the story or the plot.
Overall, a solid 4 out of 5 stars for the unique plot and the heart-tugging storyline.
Disclaimer : I received an e-copy of the book from World’s DNA in exchange of an honest review.
Until next time!