There is something about a spiritual thriller that keeps us glued to the pages of a fast-paced story. Hemis is a unique novel in this less explored genre of Indian Writing in English. One may remember Arun Joshi’s ‘strange case’, a narrative delving into tribal lore, but Madhu Tandan takes us to the picturesque, mystical landscape of Ladakh, to a small monastery in the Hemis sanctuary. Imagine being walked through dark corridors, up creaking stairs to be met by an abbot who says nonchalantly, ‘What took you so long?’ Ajay, the corporate honcho from Delhi gets goose pimples—so would any of us—when such familiarity with our secrets is expressed by a stranger in a remote spot. Who then writes the design of your life—you or some other force?
That is the tenor of Hemis. It’s about the unsaid aspects of sexuality and desire, love and loss, grief and mourning. It is a mystery novel; a page turner that will resonate with us city folks whose hectic, action filled quest for material success has stifled the cry of the soul that is on a much longer journey.
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