Book Reviews

1232 km: The Long Journey Home | Vinod Kapri

  • Author: Vinod Kapri
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (28 May 2021)
  • Language: English
  • Paperback: 232 pages

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On the evening of the 24th of March, in 2020, the Prime Minister of India announced the nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of novel coronavirus. It came as a bolt out of the blue, come to think of spending 21 days confined within your place. And while a lot of us were busy finding new hobbies, making dalgona coffee, video calling our loved ones, a major chunk of the population was left to fend for itself. Despite all the grand promises made by the government, the poor were left to die. And it was fear of death that drove them back to their native places, walking bearing the scorching heat and pain of betrayal.

1232 km by Vinod Kapri is a jolting account of seven poor labourers who were compelled to move to their hometowns amid growing fear of the fatal virus. Kapri has documented their heartbreaking journey in this book. While he does put forth his personal opinion on the decision of the lockdown, a major part of the book is solely focused on the harrowing journeys of the seven men – Ritesh, Ashish, Ram Babu, Sonu, Krishna, Sandeep and Mukesh. They paddled their way from Loni, Ghaziabad, to Saharsa in Bihar. It’s a long way!

The story details the seven-day-long journey of the 7 men who braved the odds to meet their families. Be it the shortage of food, the brunt of the heat, the cruelty of police officials, or the indifference of others they found along their way, their journey was fraught with challenges. However, amid all the odds, they found some good samaritans who helped them selflessly to find their way back home. There was bad out there but there was good too.

The book might revolve around the seven migrants. But it speaks for thousands of migrants who hankered around to reach safe places. They wanted to be home, they wanted to live. They could not stay back and wait for the government to lift the lockdown. They didn’t have the luxury to search for new forms of entertainment. What they had were fear and helplessness. They had to put up a fight and so they did. 1232 km offers an insider view of what we already read about in the news and media.

If you can comfortably grasp multiple perspectives, you might as well give this book a shot!

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