The story is about the author’s father who travels down memory lane beginning from pre-Partition Hindustan
The Long Walk Home is Hong Kong-based Manreet Sodhi Someshwar’s second novel. Her first novel, Earning the Laundry Stripes, was about Noor Bhalla, one of the first women sales managers at Hindustan Lever. Her second is about 70-year-old Harbaksh Bhalla, Noor’s father, who while struggling with a heart attack, travels down memory lane from pre-Partition Hindustan to the bloodbath that was one of the most violent phases in Indian history and everything else afterward.
At one point, Harbaksh and his cousin have a face-off with their Muslim neighbours over flying kites. In the next sequence, they leave Lahore, catching a train to Ferozepur in Punjab. Abruptly, in a moment, Partition is written off, only to resurface after a few pages.
The problem with Someshwar is that she writes as an outsider, and piles up minute details of Punjab in her writing, irritating to the average Indian reader. From the humorous road safety messages on the roads to ‘Garam chaa’, it all seems rather forced. Even Sodhi’s description of a cremation reads like an angry teenage girl’s diary excerpt.
The language fails to evoke any emotion or even appreciation of the craft itself. Even a couplet of Urdu poet Gulzar, which adorns the back cover of the book, sounds mediocre. Buy this only if you are getting a huge discount. If not, just wait for it land up at a second-hand book bazaar near you.