I ordered this book purely because I had long known dear Shivani and had always appreciated her grit and intellect. Also, I hoped that I would get an account of her struggle… which I got, but very little.
Shivani became a tetraplegic after an accident at the age of 22. The book starts well, chronicles her journey, starting from the hospital bed to her struggle to lead an independent life by making paintings and going out at the time when accessibility word was known to none. The narrative is well written with flashbacks very aptly interwoven in the story.
In comes Vikas and sweeps Shivani off her feet. Literally too as now onwards the book turns into a love story. More than three forth of the book (exactly from page 95 to page 224) is devoted to her time and life with Vikas. It would have been better if she could have kept her saga with Vikas short and crisp. She could have done it. Her description of her mother though confined to few pages is very vivid and makes a very powerful and lasting impression on the readers.
I don’t know whether it was due to the pressure from the publisher to write a 250 odd page book or her deep love for Vikas but Shivani seems to have gone overboard in recounting her life with Vikas. She should have taken a leaf from intelligent Navin (Gulia), author of ‘In Quest of Last Victory’ and confined her story to 125 odd pages.
Maj. Singh (A. K.), writer of autobiography ‘Beyond Horizons’ initially wrote less than hundred odd pages and was asked by his publisher (same, Rupa) to expend and extend his story to three hundred odd pages, he did it successfully and wrote a classic.
Another lacuna of this autobiography is lack of photographs. I have read many autobiographies and almost all of them had good numbers of photographs for the readers to relate with the characters around whom protagonist’s life revolved.
After reading more than hundred and thirty pages about Vikas and his exploits I was much curious to see how he looked like whom Shivan has described in such effervescent details. Thankfully Facebook was there to help.
Similarly I longed to see her most respectable, strong and loving mother. Though Shivani has written short narrative about her mother but in such a compelling way that reader automatically connects with her mother. She comes out to be a typical Indian strong mother. In her death reader feels personal tragedy.
Similarly I longed to see the images of her father and step mom. I also wished to see how she (Shivani) looked before the accident.
In the next revised edition I am hopeful Shivani would include some photographs of at least main characters who touched her life and wish if she could edit the book to make it crisp.