To conceal, escape, or evade is certainly not what Rickie Khosla had in mind while writing this book. He hasn’t let any relevant byte of truth go unaddressed and hasn’t attempted to evade embarrassing questions. However, using ‘deceit in order to achieve one’s goal’ is brought out rather well and this is what writers need to learn from him.
It took me a few hours to read the novella… and frankly, this was the first long read on my iPad that I managed to actually finish. All previous attempts had convinced me that reading on hand-held devices was nowhere as good as holding a real book in one’s hands. I wish though that this work by Rickie grabs the attention of a conventional publisher. Frau Eva Braun would smile down from wherever she is now.
This brings us to Eva. And to Adolf Hitler. And to the Germany under the Nazis. And to the way Eva was fascinated by this man with a funny moustache!
“I am sure that is true!” she said. “Well, I always like a man with a funny mustache,” she added, causing the man to chuckle.
“Do you know many men with funny mustaches?” Mohandas enquired in jest.
‘Eva with Gandhi?’ I muttered, and then browsed the net for the facts… and realised that the author must’ve used a fiction writer’s licence rather liberally. I went through the next few pages with scepticism written all over me and loved the way Gandhi’s incisive thoughts emerged and conversed with Eva, the photographer who was smitten by someone with a funny moustache. Gandhi tells her that ‘not everyone is intelligent to know what is right and what is wrong. Would every Briton know that? Would every German be that wise? I think not. Sometimes, what may be right for some people may be the most horrible thing for something larger, like, for their society or their Nation.’
And then I smiled when the author makes Gandhi say:
‘Well, because they can’t look beyond their own noses! They don’t even have the intellect to figure out that their misdeeds are bound to catch up with them sooner or later. They are petty and selfish. And stupid.’
‘So, how must we account for such people? We can’t wish them away, can we?’
Eva, the young German girl with a Leica in her hands must not have realised the deep significance of these words but she is convinced that freedom ‘is very important. But only the deserving must have it!’
The story moves as fast as any worthy thriller does and the pace never slackens despite so much Gandhism thrown in… but then the plot takes us to Germany and into the heart of a time when Hitler was making his first moves. We realise that Hitler ‘was a man who felt that his softer pastels had been shrouded by supersized brushstrokes of an overbearing countenance. The image of the man was his thundering oratory, his pride of place in the German political scene, the trail that he blazed wherever he went, and his shrill message of a brave new Fatherland.’ We are told unequivocally that Adolf ‘was the face of the party, and without the impact of his dramatic physical presence, it was unlikely that the German people were going to be swayed by its extremist philosophy.’
The story is about truth and the perception of truth. What Hitler thought of himself and what Eva saw.
Eva’s impressions of Adolf were quite contrary to what the man had held about himself. If there was a sensitive side to him, she hadn’t really seen it. This was not a multi-dimensional man. He had two simple settings – Happy and Unhappy – and practically nothing else in the middle.
We meet a woman who was genuinely intrigued by this man and ‘by the possibility of finding depth of emotion where all she had previously assumed was the shallowness of might and conceit.’ The story isn’t about the way Hitler’s thoughts and ideas for world domination evolved but about the way a relationship between Eva and him went through a series of trials and tribulations… and an imperative subterfuge!
Eva was planning the imperative subterfuge. A deception so powerful that it was capable of shaking Adolf’s and her world. And so essential that their lives depended on it.
We read about Hitler being ‘resurrected from the worst depths of calamitous ruin, free to claim the destiny that he and his great nation deserved. And Eva Braun had been the cause of his rebirth.’ We read with horror how he did not ‘have the time and patience to sort the good from the bad’ even when Eva tried to convince him that ‘every Polish Jew is not out to destroy the Fatherland’. We are taken on an intimate journey where we, as readers, are able to get close to a relationship that charms and fascinates even though our knowledge of history tells us not to give an emotional vote to a man who the world loves to hate! But then Hitler was no ordinary man, for in his absence, ‘the Third Reich was nothing more than a headless monster whose only destiny was its demise…’ We watch love blossom only to end with a suddenness that is unnerving. Was it all ‘a sorry end to a meaningless life that no one will ever remember in the future,’ as Mikael declared so prophetically? No.
‘No?’ you might ask.
‘Well, there is an interesting twist to the real story,’ and this is all I that I can say here in this review.
I loved the way the sentences were laden with meaning… no, this book doesn’t have the vacuous easy prose that Indians writing in English have flooded the market with. The book makes you read a bit slower than you usually do… and it makes you read parts of it twice. As a reader I felt I wouldn’t want to miss out on any pithy philosophy that bumps into me… and, believe me, there are plenty of these meaning laden sentences beckoning you from all sorts of corners in the book… and you read on until you murmur exactly what the author writes at one stage:
Now consider how easy it is for things to not be ‘normal’! One war, one rebellion, one stunted philosophy is all it takes for this harmony to break. Sometimes, all it takes is one man!
Title: The Imperative Subterfuge
Author: Rickie Khosla
Publisher: Available as a Kindle Edition on Amazon
Price: Rs 50/- (in 2013)
14 August 2013