Maiden authors bring a fresh voice and a fresh narrative with them. Nikhil Ramteke’s the 365 days is one such novel.
This is the story of Shijukutty a fisherman from Kerala. As every other Malyali has gone to the Gulf and made a fortune, Shijukutty too goes to Dubai, leaving behind his wife and son. He has taken a loan to pay the agent who is going to arrange for his job in Dubai. Shijukutty boards the plane with many dreams. All his dreams are shattered into pieces once he lands up in Dubai. He is not paid the salary which he was offered. He works twelve hours in a day as a construction worker and languishes in a labour camp. Will the Gulf offer him the life of his dreams? For this you will have to read the 365 days.
This novel brings the miserable life of labourers in the gulf to the fore. It shows how they are cheated by the agents, exploited, made to work for long hours and live in inhuman conditions. The author, having himself lived for many years in the gulf, weaves this ugly world which exists in the belly of the glittering Dubai very well. He brilliantly captures the ambitions, desires of the blue collared working class Malyali. His real to life characters bring alive the life in the labour camps in front of us. It is the success of the author that we can feel their pain and their despair. The author has a good understanding of the dynamics of human relationships. Be it Shijukutty’s relationship with his wife or his room mates, the author simply gets it right.
The 365 days is a refreshing, riveting but a poignant tale. There are couple of spelling mistakes in the book. Also the protagonist at one place says that he misses the toothless smile of his son. At another place we come to know that his son is over two years. I wish creases like this were ironed. Yet, the 365 days for its story and emotions is a novel not to be missed.