Santosh Bakaya in her book “a skyful of balloons” sketches an untarnished, flawless and pristine beauty of the valley of Kashmir. Mother nature has indeed, profusely sprinkled the land with awe-inspiring and aesthetic beauty. On a crisp misty morning, one is transported to an ethereal and mystical world, holding a warm cup of Kahwah in hand, beholding the scenic beauty of dense green firs and the meandering rivers flowing in all their glory. The silver snow capped mountains which sprawl all around, stand tall majestically and intensify the pristine charms of nature . The author holds forth picturesque description of graceful shikaras,the cultural symbols, floating on the tranquil and yet sometimes tumultuous waters of Dal Lake. She also expresses about the radiant sun streaming into the welcoming homes, that sapphire blue skies, without any warning, turning into grey and sporadically showering as rain and snow. In midst of this breathtaking splendor of the land of crowning glory of India, the author narrates a mesmerizing love story, painted in sublime hues.
As the soothing breeze touches , kisses and sways over the pages of the book,a fragnant and unadulterated tale of love between childhood sweethearts, Preeti and Vivek unfolds before us.Love in her resplendent best, twirls in euphoric glee ,spraying passion colours into the infinite blueness of the skies.Preeti and Vivek caught in the sacred love vortex ,passes days in roseate dreams. The readers remain spellbound to the rhythm of childhood songs which they compose on whim,as they murmur and croon lines of Shakespearean play,poems of Alfredlord Tennyson , Simon Armitage, lyrics of Leonard Cohel song,
“Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin , Dance me through the panic till I’m gathered safely in , Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove.”
The prose of “A skyful of balloons” is interspersed with poetic musings, sending the avid readers into raptures.
The love between Preeti and Vivek has been portrayed by the writer in immaculate details It blossoms in full bloom in the perfumed garden of their musical bantering,animated laughter,flared up tantrums ultimately dissolving into each other.
The birds twittering in unison,the walnuts scattering themselves willingly on the ground , strums at the heartstrings of Preeti .She revels in squeals of ecstatic delights as ducks quacks and marches gracefully into the flowing waters,.The Raina’s and Dhar’s family who are next door neighbours also join in , beaming with uninhibited exuberance, witnessing their children’s jubilation..Santosh Bakaya presents happy family picture,where tranquility prevails in unruffled tones.
Preeti and Vivek are both post graduate students of English Lierature. Both of them eventually ties the nuptial cord ,amidst much pomp and grandeur, with the blessings of their parents. With the final culmination of her dreams,Preeti steps into Dhar’s household, into the loving embrace of her parents in law. The lives of Preeti and Vivek gets wrapped up as cotton love candies of sweetest flavor, two bodies one soul.Savouring the taste of never ending love,ten years of marital bliss passes on as if in a fraction of a second.
The author tries to expound the fact that change is the rule of life. Life like seasons alters its face, with the twist of fate .All of a sudden, a change comes over in Preeti’s life. The pink tinted sky loses its luster, musical chirpings of birds gets embedded forever in the sands of time. Her forlorn heart no longer sings, the colours of her life gets faded into black and white, her heart no longer stirs any emotions. The abundant passion and zeal flowing relentlessly from her,one day stops..
She remininces a time ,when tenacious claws of nightmare began to torment her.Sitting on a deck of a ship,the furious tongues of waves lashed out at her, snatching away the bundle in her arms,into their fathomless depths.She screamed in horror,calling out her husband’s name,But he was nowhere to be found,Just then,a little boy ,like a bolt from the blue,appeared and looked at her intensely with blue smiling eyes. Preeti got up from slumber with a jolt .She sensed a calamity looming large over her head. But there was bliss in her life,Vivek filled her life with utter joy and ecstasy
Her life continued in snug comfort in the arms of her beloved. Days were spent enveloped in intense love. As Preeti walks down the memory lane, she recollects 21st October 1985,the day of her13th marriage anniversary. There were happy peels of laughter everywhere.Vivek was copiously teased about the yellow shirt,but he did look gallant in it. Vivek went out without a helmet,as Preeti could not find it.She knew he had gone to get her anniversary present,a sports car,which they had always wanted.After sometime the Rainas get a call and they slumped down on the couch.Vivek had a head on collision with a car,and without a hemet,he lay in a pool of blood.The end came too quickly,underlying the fact that,life is unpredictable.It is full of twists and turns.troughs and crests.
Days drag on listlessly.The atmosphere of the house is languorous and suffocating.Despair and distress slowly enters one by one into the household.Preeti is reduced to a despondent person.Her wavering mind cannot muster courage to paint anymore,which was once her passion.The face of Kashmir too changed with political anarchy and chaos everywhere,as if reflecting her inner turmoil.
Here the author tries to row in again another phase of Preeti’s existence,that no matter whatever circumstances one confronts,one has to eventually move on in life.Life flows on like the winding rivers,never stopping for anybody.One fine dazzling morning a small boy of seven enters the scene,gradually lighting up the darkness,like an array of burning diyas.He creeps into their lives,as if he has been always a part.Preeti is taken aback by the fact that he is the same boy who appeared in her dreams with a far away look.Little Viki mingles and coalesces, ringing in ripples of joys and laughter once again.He lost his mother Geetanjali in childbirth and his father Prakhar takes care of him.Both father and son has taken extreme fondness for Preeti.As Preeti gets gradually enamoured of him,she is elated to find a treasure trove of love,warmth and compassion in little Vivek .Preeti is magically drawn to the innocence of the loving child.Her life has found a new meaning.The fresh breeze blows out dense dark clouds .Bright sunshine peeps in ,the birds again sang melodies.Preeti brings out her paint brushes to colour her blank canvas with vivid tones of rainbow shades. Hope springs in the hearts of Rainas.The change has begun.
Santosh Bakaya pens down a simple story in elegant style,deeply underlying the truth and realities of life,as we face them.Her command over language needs worthy mention,as she knits the tale in intricate design.Against the backdrop of a heavenly Kashmir, love spun in its purest and divine form entrals the readers.The readers indeed get lost in the funfilled jovial world of Preeti and Vivek ,the grief and anguish in Preeti’s life,with the turn of events and finally the advent of a new world for her.Life is the greatest teacher ,it teaches one all from letting go to moving on.
About the contributor: Prof Shiv Sethi is the Head Department of English Language and Linguistics at Dev Samaj College For Women, Ferozepur city. He is a freelancer columnist with the Newspapers and magazines like The Tribune, The Hindustan Times, The Hindu, The New Indian Express, The Hitavada, The Free press Journal, The Deccan Herald , The Daily Post, The Himalayan Times ( Nepapal) The Milli Gazette,The Book Review India Magazine, Contemporary Literary Journal and the Ignite Minds Journal. His area of interest is Modern Indian Writting In English and He has more than 200 articles/ book reviews to his credit.