Don’t Believe in God-Till you Experience Him by Mukul Kumar- a techie now working with IT industry -is a story of faith, devotion and knowledge. Basically it is everyone’s story- swinging between doubt and belief-making a lifelong quest towards light of knowledge- an expedition from death to immortality.
We come across many books every day. But this book is slightly different. It is the story of the tryst with destiny of the protagonist. He transformed from his childhood to boyhood to teenage to youth-and his environment continued to shape him- both emotionally and spiritually. Then came the climax-he met one religious sect that changed the course of his life. We decided that we ask him some questions on his book. He consented to answer our questions and the interview begun-
• We asked him- In your novel-you have portrayed rural Bihar women as folks who are engaged in relentless quarrelling within the family and outside the family. What is your basic intention? Is it due to socioeconomic condition of women in cow belt or any other specific purpose? Please elaborate.
• He answered-The book deals a lot with human psyche and impact of surroundings on grooming of our belief system and behaviour. The quarrelling women in the rural setup lack pretence and express their egos freely. As we urbanize and move higher in the society; the way of expression becomes sophisticated but the egos remain.
• Our next question is- You have dealt at depth with the life story of your protagonist. His childhood, his boyhood even his puberty has been elaborated. Do you think that it has any special significance in plotting of the story?
• He answered-Yes. The protagonist’s life has moved in a spiral. First loop is of struggle in a mundane society for a carrier, education and uplift of social status. In the second part of his life, the protagonist seeks spiritual enlightenment and tries to give up worldly priorities. What comes to his eerie realization is that it was the learning that he had in the first part of life that ultimately comes to his rescue when he was on the verge of collapse in his quest for spiritual enlightenment.
Then we asked him- There was ample opportunity for you to elaborate the socioeconomic transition of Bihar as the boy gets older. But somehow there was not much utilisation of that opportunity. Don’t you think it would have added colour to the book?
• He nodded and said-As I reflect on it, yes it was a possibility.
We asked him a sensitive question- The protagonist has an encounter with a Guru who somehow gave him a new dimension of religion. But that context did end there-whereas natural expectation of any reader will be to see how the newfound conception shapes the belief and thought of the boy. Is it consciously done?
• He told us-This story deals with a difficult subject of what happens when the things one expects does not materialize. The protagonist and many others realize that they did not achieve their ultimate aspiration of liberation under the guidance of their Guru. What we make of our lives and how we carry on once we fail in our pursuit, our resilience and ability to bounce back in life and living without regrets are some of the key takeaways of the book.
Next we asked him-Why he protagonist is your namesake?
• He told us-This is to drive home the message that this story could happen to all of us. The author and the readers alike.
Our penultimate question was-. There is mention of certain religious cult –which eventually took a very important part in the development of the story. The priest of the cult is called Amigo-which means friend. What makes you choose that name?
• To which his response was-The priest acts as a friend, guide and co traveller in the whole journey. What happens is that except the head of the cult, everyone is on the same boat.
The last question is- There is an initiation process in the cult where use of some weapon is made to taster the temperament. Is it inspired by Arthur Conan Doyle?
• He responded-There are some practices used by many of the Knight Templers and Freemasonry based church. Those are the inspirations for the rituals
We later asked about his future plans and soon. But that is another story.
Read review of the book here