Tale of valour, love, and redemption

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Tale of valour, love, and redemption

Sunday, 26 May 2024 | Gyaneshwar Dayal

Tale of valour, love, and redemption

Book Name: Calling Sehmat

Author: Harinder Sikka

Publisher: Penguin

Price: Rs 499

Harinder Sikka tells Gobind's story with rare passion and candor, highlighting the protagonist's ability to uphold his promises, says GYANESHWAR DAYAL

Harinder Sikka, the acclaimed author whose book Calling Sehmat inspired the 2018 film Raazi starring Alia Bhatt, explores the depths of human emotion and resilience in his latest novel, Gobind.

This compelling story is set against the dual backdrops of Bihar's poverty and the valorous spirit of the Indian Navy. Through a rich narrative, Sikka delves into themes of love, loyalty, and redemption, offering readers a deeply personal and stirring literary experience.

For Sikka, Gobind is more than just a story; it is a personal literary voyage. "It's a very personal literary voyage that weaves together themes of love, selflessness, and unwavering determination," he explains.

The novel is based on true events that transpired between the late 1970s and early 1990s, providing a rare and profound insight into the disciplined and highly motivated Armed Forces of India, particularly the Indian Navy. Through meticulous storytelling, Sikka highlights the rigorous training, passion, and dedication of naval officers, weaving in shocking incidents that occurred in St Petersburg, Russia, and India.

Gobind centres around its titular character, a man born into abject poverty to parents who held deep faith in Guru Gobind Singh. Named after the revered saint, Gobind realises early on that it is up to him to change his family's circumstances. With no means or support beyond the values instilled by his parents, Gobind works tirelessly to gain admission to the Indian Military Academy (IMA), eventually qualifying for recruitment into the Indian Navy.

Although Gobind achieves professional success, his personal life is marred by tragedy. The girl he loves commits suicide after her landlord father arranges her marriage to another man. This devastating loss leaves Gobind shattered, despite being celebrated in his village for his professional achievements. Yet, he rises from this personal devastation with renewed determination.

Gobind's journey takes him to Russia as part of a team tasked with purchasing submarines for the Indian Navy. Despite the immense responsibility, he performs his duties with unwavering diligence. His integrity shines through when a senior officer, compromised by a Russian honey trap, approves the quality check on a submarine. Gobind refuses to concur, standing firm in his commitment to duty and integrity. His moral fortitude is further tested when he falls in love with a Russian girl, a relationship that challenges his fundamental rights.

Sikka tells Gobind's story with rare passion and candour, highlighting the protagonist's ability to uphold his promises and appeal to the higher principles of those around him. Through Gobind's journey, Sikka presents a thrilling yet deeply sensitive narrative that provokes thought while delivering a profound message. The story inspires and entertains, making it a multifaceted read.

Gobind, published by Penguin, was recently launched and has already garnered significant attention. Harinder Sikka, who was commissioned into the Indian Navy in January 1981 and took premature retirement in 1993 as a Lieutenant Commander, brings his firsthand experience and insights into the narrative. Besides Calling Sehmat, Sikka has also authored Vichhoda, further establishing his prowess in weaving powerful stories.

In Gobind, readers will find a powerful tale of a man who dared to challenge the world for the principles he stood for. Sikka's narrative not only tells the story of a determined naval officer but also explores the broader themes of love, selflessness, and unwavering determination, offering a deeply enriching reading.

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