Tatwamasi by Dhruv Bhatt
A gripping novel telling a tale of a young man who by chance goes to the forest on the banks of Narmada and gradually gets fascinated by the river, the tribals living there and the people working among the tribals. There are many happenings, mysteries and revealations, which keep the reader spellbound. The gist of the novel - The story opens with a young man who has spent eighteen of his growing up years in America, being sent to India by his university prof. Rudolf, to work among the tribals in the forests on the banks of the river Narmada, study their culture, their way of life and also teach them. The Hero (as is usual in Dhruv Bhatt`s novels the hero`s name does not appear anywhere in the book) is most reluctant to leave his girl-friend Lucy behind and go and do something in which he does not believe. But prof. Rudolf insists that he must go and send him regular reports, keeping a copy with himself. He says the hero will be helped there by one Supriya, who the hero assumes, must be an old lady with Gandhian philosophy. When he arrives in the forest, first he is puzzled to see a diagram on a stone of the Murga constellation, but with the addition of one tiny star near the star of Vyadha (the hunter) and the names Bittu Banga written three, and taken aback to see Supriya to be a young smart, highly educated lady, who is running a centre for the tribals in the middle of the forest. She knows their language and is teaching them a lot, without interfering in their way of life as far as possible. Many other unique characters intrigue him like Guptaji the trader-moneylender who lives there with his mother and rest of the family, Shastriji who is a very learned man who is having his own Ashram on the riverbanks, Gandu Fakir on enigma in himself, Kika Vaidya whose seven generations have lived in the forest, knows all the herbal medicines and treats people. All these people help Supriya in her work. The tribals are not all the same is also revealation. There are different tribes with slight differences in the way they speak, their customs, even the way they walk. But all of them are extremely hospitable, honest, hardworking people. A tribe called Saath Saalis keep themselves aloof, live far away from others, speak a different language which only the two brothers Bittu Banga know and are allowed to go there. Ma- the head of the Saathsaalis is a lady clad in a head to foot black burkha. Stranger still, the Saathsaalis believe they came to the earth from the tiny star shown near the star of Vyadha in the diagram of the Mruga constellation! The hero`s American girl friend is a student of Astronomy and also travels a lot around the world to strange unknown places, collects new information and publishes papers. She now arrives in India in the Narmada forest on hearing about all this. They visit the Saathsals together with Bittu Banga. They have some conversation with Ma and the hero realises who she really is but keeps quiet. Lucy wants him to go back with her to America while he wants her to stay there and work with him. Many other incidents also happen throughout the novel, as mysteries get solved and new mysteries come up - A truly riveting and thought provoking novel.