2 out of 4 stars
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I hope and pray that no one will ever face the grueling agony faced by Mr. Ramkumar. He suddenly dreams one night that his daughter is arrested by the police because of a mistake in her passport. He breaks up in a sweat, determined to correct the error in his daughter’s passport. Thus begins The Journey to a Passport by R. K. Shivaram. Mr. Ramkumar works in a prestigious position in a bank in Bangalore, India. He already has a passport, but on someone’s suggestion, he gets passports done for his wife, Radha, and daughter, Nakshatra, as well. All goes smoothly with the help of an agent and the passports are delivered to his house.
All is calm before the storm. Ramkumar is transferred to Salem before he can see the passports. His wife, who had received them, locked them up safely and they both don’t think about them for a while. Fast forward a couple of months. Ramkumar comes home to Bangalore during his vacation time and has a look at the passports. He is hit by a terrible shock. His daughter’s birthday had a date wrong by a year. He thinks of correcting it as soon as possible, so as to not cause her any trouble in the future, in case she would like to study abroad.
The real story starts now. What the reader (and Ramkumar as well) thinks is a small error by the agent turns out to be a huge headache for Ramkumar. One really sympathizes with him. He runs to the passport office, the lawyers, the police station, government officials, political figures and many more people, pleading for his daughter’s date of birth to be corrected. He is abused by his wife and his daughter, yet he struggles to control his tears, because his conscience knows that he is right.
I am sorry to say that though the theme was intense enough, the story was written very badly. I was very disappointed. I actually struggled to finish the book. The author has a rich vocabulary but is weak in the usage. I found several spelling mistakes as well, in the second half. There were many places where unnecessary use of capitalization and quotation marks was done. The phrase “my heart skipped a beat” was used in the wrong places several times. It is for this reason that I rate this book 2 out of 4 stars. Hoping for improvement from the author’s side, I have not awarded just 1 star. The story was monotonous, without much explanation about Ramkumar’s life except for running around for his daughter’s passport. I understand that this was probably the case of the real-life incident on which it is based (and that a banker’s life is mostly monotonous), but I believe that it could have been more interesting. It was more of a documentary than a story.
There were too many characters in the book. Again, I believe this was because of the real-life incident it was based on. Readers should have a lot of concentration to keep track of the characters. Once again, I’d like to stress on the fact that you just have to sympathize with Ramkumar. He does have good friends, Rajashekar, who has many contacts with political figures, and the people who work in the passport office, and Ananth, who knows many lawyers, but there are many selfish people who don’t care about Ramkumar and actually give him a really hard time, like several lawyers he consults and his very own friend, Sriram, who holds a high-ranking position in the passport office. He struggles for more than six years simply because his agent had done a mistake in Nakshatra’s passport. I guess Ramkumar’s only fault was not checking the passport immediately, but you can’t blame him for trusting his wife.
There are several other people who indirectly help him as well, like his manager and his dean (when he joins a college to teach after he retires) who give him holidays whenever he requires. There are also additional random characters like his astrologer who predicts his success. All in all, I have to be honest and say that it was a boring book. If edited properly, it might be a good documentary. It might even appeal to people fond of this genre. Other than that, it’s very bland and has only one dimension in the story line: Ramkumar needs to get his daughter’s passport fixed. That becomes the sole reason for his existence and the reader is praying for his ordeal to end. I hope this brings change in the judicial system. Please don’t postpone cases just because of your whims and fancies. There might be a person like Ramkumar out there, with weak knees, praying for his only daughter. I hope that humanity is enriched with this heartwarming, emotional story of a hardworking father.
the journey to a passport
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