The Assassinations: A novel of 1984 – Book Review

  • Author: Vikram Kapur
  • Genre: Historical Fiction
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Speaking Tiger Publishing Private Limited (10 November 2017)
  • Language: English

BLURB as on Goodreads

Prem Kohli, the handsome, ambitious son of a Sikh refugee, has the world at his feet. A glittering career lies ahead, and he has just got engaged to his college girlfriend, Deepa, overcoming her parents’ reservations about Hindus and Sikhs intermarrying. But, while Deepa remains occupied with their marriage plans, the Indian Army enters the Golden Temple. Prem cannot contain his rising anger at the desecration of the shrine and at the people around him who shrug it off as ‘teaching a lesson’ to the Sikhs. He begins growing out his hair and beard and visiting the gurudwara regularly, where he learns about the militancy in Punjab. Matters come to a head a few months later, when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is assassinated and anti-Sikh riots break out all over Delhi, as Prem is caught up in a vortex of violence and hate that threatens to engulf all of their lives.

My Review

Two happy families which are all set to be tied in the vows of the wedding are blown away when the Prime Minister of India is shot! One of them is Hindu but the other one is a Sikh family. And that made all the difference.

The Assassinations is an evocative tale centered on the times of 1984 in India. It was then when PM Indira Gandhi announced raid on the Gurudwara to combat the Sikh militants and was consequently shot by her Sikh bodyguards. This incident brought mayhem in the lives of people and the worst affected were the denizens of Delhi. The Sikhs were brutally killed, women were raped, houses were set on fire and what surrounded was the smoke of burnt flesh and dead dreams. It is a story of the one who has lost everything to the disruption caused by an assassination.

I liked how the author developed the whole setting of the story. It begins with the parents who are worried about the marriage of their soon-to-be graduate daughter. She is in love with a Sikh boy. After a few repercussions, they are decided to be married. Everything is smooth and fine till the worst happens and it changes the course of their lives. Dreams of a beautiful future together are shattered. A lot of loss creeps into the lives of the people affected in 1984. The way the pain of loss has been brought out is striking.

I was moved to tears when the agony of a woman pleading with passersby to save her son is put forth. I was stunned at the way the Sikhs had to bear the aftermath of what their brothers did. I was shellshocked at everything that took place in the light of consequences of the assassination. I felt it – everything. If a book is able to deeply affect you in a way that you are bound to stop and ponder over what had happened in it, I guess it is successful. To me, the fast-paced narrative with the lush character development and language is always a win-win thing. So yes, a book like this written with utmost sensitivity deserves all praise for it paints the picture of pain in the most subtle manner.

For the first time, I have realized why minority communities in India are minorities! And how bloodied hatred and insensitivity could be.

MY RATING: 5/ 5 

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