The “last” color is the colour of Ash. Ash is the color of every soul on its way to Nirvana, the colour of every flame after it burns, the colour of oldest wisest eyes. At the end, everyone becomes the same, everyone becomes equal, everyone becomes identical, everyone becomes the colour of ash. – The Last Color
246 paged short read The Last Color by Vikas Khanna is one exemplary work of fiction where social evil meets a satisfying end.
The novel follows the story of Choti a street kid who walks the tightrope to earn her living. She is a child full of life and who has seen enough of life. She ably offers you the life lessons that you have never pondered about. She is friends with Anarkali a transgender who begs to earn a living. She becomes friends with Noor, an old widow. Both these characters play a major role in shaping the thoughts of Choti. These two friends of Choti make her believe in her abilities to conquer the world. Soon this street kid reaches great heights in her life by becoming an advocate. Not only does Choti achieve her dreams but she never forgets the lessons given by her friends and so she returns to her roots to help the widows like Noor to celebrate the beautiful festival of colors, Holi.
Inclined towards the dark side of India and set amidst the oldest city of the world, Varanasi, the novel tells an impressive tale of friendship, life on streets, prevalent social evils and human spirit.
Being a widow in India is difficult because everything is whisked away from them. They are tied up, bounded and gaged by societal norms. These widows turn out to be bodies without spirit because of the of norms imposed on them. While in metro cities such a societal pressure is considerably less but in the city of gods where the Goddesses like Goddess Ganga are revered day and night, search a pressure crushes the life out of women.
In this book Vikas Khanna deftly points out the plight of widows and the innocence of a child is seen instrumental in doing so. By engaging a child in talks with a widow, the author adds an edge to the story. Thus we get to see two distinct yet parellel worlds.
The novel consists of 11 chapters. Each chapter has a definitive title which follows the theme of the chapter. Each chapter is preceded by an epigraph.
What I loved about this book – The hidden aspirations of Noor were painful. And so was the story of Lakshmi. My heart goes out to women like Noor and Lakshmi who, despite the trials of life, leave an impression behind on minds of children like Choti in their own way. The bravery and the zeal of Choti is admirable. Another thing that I fell in love is that the author has penned this book so well that the characters though unravel slowly yet the reader can easily get into the skin of the characters and experience the emotions! About the writing style I can say that there are minor slipups but there’s a clarity of thought quite evident in the writing.
Overall, this book is perfectly plated; all the ingredients blended in in just right proportion, as the Chef would like to have it. With a dash of emotions and drama the story served not only leaves you content but also with one too many food for thought.
Publisher: Bloomsbury India
Available on: Amazon, Flipkart and In-store