The Indian English writer Amandeep Sandhu's debut novel The Sepia Leaves takes back the reader to the golden days of Indian English writing, where words were melodious, expressions-crystal clear and the feelings enter to the reader's heart for a lifetime.
Sepia Leaves is a journey through the writer's childhood, where the reader goes step by step with the young Appu. Brought up by a schizophrenic mother and caring father, Appu's childhood was an eventful one. At the initial stage of his childhood, he senses that there is something that distinguishes his family from others. As he grows up a little more he realizes that his mother's unaccepted mental illness is responsible for that. The time when Appu asks his father to leave his mother is a significant scene in this novel. His father replies that his marriage with Appu's mother is a destined one and he cannot move away from responsibilities.
The novel may at first seems to be the story of Appu. However there are other prominent characters who leave their strong impressions in the reader's minds. The novel opens with Baba's (father's) death, when the now grown up Appu recalls his troubled childhood. Baba was the real hero in his life who taught him the lessons of responsibility, courage and ethics in life. Appu shared Baba's love for amandeep sandhu,book review,dhanyasree m,energy,highly educated,india,literature,photography,sepia leaves and thirst for writing. A part of Appu in childhood always longed to become the valorous Baba before his marriage with Mamman (Mother).
Always despised by her husband's family and the public, cared by her husband and loved/feared by her own son, Mamman's life is always under the shadows created by her own. She takes pride in being highly educated and coming from an affluent family. At the same time she blames her husband and family for wasting away her wealth and education. However an unfortunate incident had turned this poor woman into the circumstances that she was put in. Appu learns her story at a later stage and his heart goes on for her.
Another two powerful characters in the novel are Mando and Antaryamin. Baba takes Mando home to take care of Appu as well as to save her from the disastrous condition that she had been put in. Mando adjusts with the screeches and curses put on her by Mamman. Even in the troubled ambience of Appu's family, Mando finds peace and a kindle of love in the newspaperwallah Antaryamin's eyes. However a bad luck awaited her too, since she becomes victim to a brutal attack when Appu and family are out of home. Later she finds her peace at home in Antaryamin's small hut.
What makes this novel a more pleasurable reading is its positive outlook to life. Even after all the troublesome experience in childhood, Appu never feels that he is someone to be sympathized on. He is ready to help others and ready to ask help from others too. As the reader goes through Baba's words to Appu a new light dawns before them.
"...the world is still a good place. There are problems. We all have problems. Still, you will never be lonely." (S.L. p.179)
This is the positive energy that the reader attains as he/she turns down the last pages of Sepia Leaves. As the title of the novel suggests reading this novel will make you as nostalgic as turning the sepia leaves of your childhood album. The only difference is that this novel will rekindle your memories and make them evergreen in your life...