(When is a loss gain? Find it out from Pavan’s book that begins in India, climaxes in Bhutan and sees a happy ending in India. It is spellbinding book. To find it more one must read it but, here is a synopsis of the book-poor though.)
Pavan Kumar Varma’s book ‘When Loss Is Gain’ is a beautiful fiction which will be loved by readers. There is no reason why this book should not become reader’s favourite because it contains beautiful plot that connects with the lives of many individuals.
The book has the main protagonist Anand, a lawyer by profession narrating the story in first person. It tells about the life of Anand who is happily married man working in his buddy Adi’s law firm. Unfortunately, the couple could not bear child of theirs and thus a rift develops in the marriage. Anand, devotes his time in is work and thus the last of the sparks in his marital life slowly wanes.
The protagonist also finds himself being ridiculed more often by his best friend as time went on and realizes his wife Tanu finding more time for Anand’s friend and employer Adi. On several occasion Anand finds Tanu unusually closer physically to Adi. This closeness raises suspicion but Anand brushes them aside believing what is going through in his mind cannot be true.
Then one day Anand gets hospitalized and later learns that he has pancreatic cancer. Under normal circumstances, the doctor takes second opinions from renowned colleagues but in Anand’s case, Tanu plays her part and insists on the doctor to not seek a second opinion and tell Anand the prognosis which shatters Anand. But the real pain was not from the realization of the looming death but that of his wife leaving him for his nemesis Adi right when he needed her the most.
However, after several months, the doctor who diagnosed Anand decides to take second opinion on his prognosis from two different specialists both of whom come out with the same result as not life threatening cancer but a treatable condition. Thus, Anand gets back a second chance to live which makes him appreciate every moment of his life and one day comes across a Bhutanese man who suggested he visit Bhutan for a change.
He flies to Bhutan and lives at Wangsisina between Paro and Thimphu during which he learns so many insights on life from his host. He becomes mesmerised about the country steeped in tradition and culture with deep respects accorded to environment. The stories of rocks having souls and the belief of even the inert materials having spirits not only intrigue Anand he falls in love with the place.
It is here that he comes across another Indian woman named Tara who was trying to get enrolled in a nunnery after her lover ditched her back in India. Anand and Tara meet regularly and fall in love with each other. In order to help the love grow fonder, the house owner arranges Anand and Tara’s visit to Punakha where they visit the dzong and even Chimi Lhakhang, founded by divine madman Drukpa Kunley. They return back after an eventful day.
After that eventful visit, Tara decides no to meet Anand in her preparation to become a nun. She did not want to fall in love again but she already does. Anand becomes frustrated and it is time he returns back to India. Anand’s lady landlord arranges one final meeting between the two by the riverside. On the fateful day, just when the couple were about to meet, the swollen river washes away Anand.
Tara manages to find the house owner who informs police and arranges the search party who had to return back not finding a trace of Anand and assumes him to be dead. Meanwhile Anand’s last visual were of the rocks bending down to save him. Twenty-four hours later Anand was found alive miraculously on a ledge that was way above the river line unconscious but very much alive.
He was then taken to hospital where he was found to be alright. It was there that Tara lets Anand know that she too loved him. The couple gets married in traditional Bhutanese style with the help of Anand’s host Chhimi and then one day returns back to India.
Back in Delhi, Anand learns of the plight of Adi who has become an alcoholic and how his law firm is in dire straits. Suddenly one day, Tanu arrives at Anand’s place and asked Tara about the nunnery where she intends to go and become a nun herself after what has gone through her life.
Anand meanwhile gets offer from a reputed law firm where he agrees to work four-days a week as consultant at double the salary Adi paid him earlier.
When Anand and Tara after the birth of their daughter Yashodhara returns back to Bhutan, they find Tanu no longer at the Wangsisina nunnery having moved further into the retreat.
When Loss is a Gain is indeed a gripping novel that also depicts the beauty and serendipity of Bhutan where people live simple lives in perfect harmony with nature even as 21st century roars on. It is a story of love, betrayal, desperation and the beauty of triumph in the end. It is a story of life making a full circle that has essence of Buddhist teaching and that of Ley Jumdrey, the truth of cause and effect.
I would certainly recommend this book to Bhutanese readers. I am sure readers will enjoy reading it like I did.
Meanwhile, keep reading and writing too. We will meet soon on the same page where we all likeminded people always do. Take care and God bless you all.
October 30, 2014 9.0pm
NB: Pavan K Varma is the former Indian Ambassador to Bhutan. He is a distinguished diplomat, a well published author and a poet.