“Love and humanity may blossom in the most barren of the places” is the central theme of Border Post 99 – No Man’s Land by Kedar Patankar. The story revolves around Lieutenant Mangesh Sharma (referred as Sharma in rest of the review and the book) and Captain Abid Khan (referred as Khan in rest of the review). While Sharma belongs to the Indian army, Khan is a captain in Pakistani Army. The animosity between these countries is not hidden from anybody. Both have been appointed to guard Post 99 by their respective countries. Post 99 is not an ordinary place. Officially, it is a no man’s land; therefore, no army is supposed to be guarding this place. However, both the armies have ordered their respective guarding soldiers (Sharma and Khan) to keep an eye out at the area and report their seniors in case of any abnormality. There is, above all, one most important order which is not to shoot under any circumstances as this is a “no man’s land.” This last — and the most important — order appears to be the hardest for both Sharma and Khan. All they want to do is shoot each other.
This is a very short read. It finishes as quickly as it starts. Nevertheless, its length is its beauty. The author has a clear message to convey to its readers and he does it without wasting the time of its readers by describing unnecessary details. Although it is a fast read, the author has managed to establish a connection between the characters and readers. Beneath all the man-made propaganda and conspiracies, every person is a human packed with various emotions — the love of family being at the top of the list. Although Sharma and Khan act all tough when they are around each other, they miss their families and, above all, wish to be with their loved ones. Amidst all the political drama and following orders, they are just lost in their own ways.
The narration is very skillful. The characters and their musings kept me occupied and entertained. The author has provided a glimpse of the kind of life a soldier lives, and it made me more respectful towards the soldiers’ lives. The little pranks that Sharma and Khan play on each other are really amusing. The development of the story is very tasteful. There was one twist that seemed a little too coincidental to me, but that did not reduce my interest in the book.
All said and done, I would have really liked if the presentation of the book was better. Dividing a book into chapters and giving each chapter a tasteful title increases a reader’s engagement with it. This is my only concern with the book. For this reason, I would rate the book 3 out of 4 stars.
This book was an “OnlineBookClub.org Book of the Day”. It can be found on OBC bookshelf by clicking on this link: http://forums.onlinebookclub.org/shelves/book.php?id=31853