4 out of 4 stars
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Kedar Patankar’s Border Post 99, No Man’s Land is a moving book that falls under the other fiction genre. It is set in a territory between two opposing countries, India and Pakistan. It follows the interactions of two sentries from the opposing sides. Through these interactions, we are shown that common ground and mutual understanding can be found in the most unexpected places.
We are first introduced to Lieutenant Mangesh Sharma, a fresh Indian recruit who is stationed at Border Post 99. Located in an area that belongs neither to India nor to Pakistan, the post should not exist. Alone and battling to keep up his morale, Sharma’s initial fear is of being attacked by Pakistani soldiers who might be lurking in the isolated area. Uneventful weeks go by and just as his paranoia begins to subside, the unexpected happens - he spots a Pakistani soldier! Both men are instructed by their commanding officers not to shoot the other, as their countries are engaged in peace talks. The ensuing interactions between the two enemy soldiers are nothing short of hilarious. They find ways to humiliate each other, scheme and plot revenge plans and ways to entrap each other. Little do they know that they share a deep connection.
Patankar has a simple, clear writing style, which makes for a smooth reading experience. This combined with the engrossing plot, enabled me to read this gem in one sitting. The book refers to the partition that occurred in 1947, separating India and Pakistan. This enriches the development of the characters, both leading and supporting. We never meet the soldier’s families directly but whenever they are mentioned, it feels as though they are dear ones we know and love.
The themes in this book speak to our humanity. The adverse effects of civil war, bias and discrimination are shown. I loved how the book is not somber though. It remains positive, showing how people can choose to focus on the good in their lives. It is balanced by themes of letting go of the past, gratitude and hope.
I could find no fault with this book. It is eloquently written and I did not find any grammatical or spelling errors. I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend it to all those who are pressed for time and would like to read something that will leave a lasting impression. As mentioned before it is a short read, with a heartwarming message. It deserves nothing less than the highest rating.
Border Post 99
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