WRITING STYLE: 3.5/5
ENTERTAINMENT QUOTIENT: 3/5
I am of the belief that books are of 2 kinds: Ones that have a good story to be told, and ones that are written so well that the story does not really matter. Rarely does an author come along who can exhibit both literary skills as well as story telling ability, and these are the ones that achieve greatness. As a reader though, one would want to snuggle into a book and enjoy a good story. But once in a while, you come across a story that is too fantastic to fathom, even if one were to construe it as a fantasy novel.
And that is exactly what V. S. Sury’s “Jestus” felt like when I started reading it. The author started with the narration of an interesting incident, to bring into focus the two central characters, and I was filled with optimism with the start. But once the central character started performing miracles, it became a little difficult to digest.
But that did not in any way make me want to put the book down and switch to another book for a distraction, as I do with books that I do not like. In fact, the events were very fascinating, and the discussions and situations that Bagus and Wide Heart find themselves in makes for some interesting reading.
Jestus is essentially a chronicle of events that Wide Heart experiences with Bagus, who is an old man roaming the streets and the forests in an almost naked state. In fact, Bagus may not even be his real name. The old man always asks the narrator to call him by any name he pleases, and so is referred to throughout the book in various names like Jestus, Bagliano, etc, but the one most predominantly used is Bagus.
When Wide Heart first encounters Bagus, he thinks he is just a mad old man. But events afterwards prove otherwise, and Wide Heart keeps probing all the more to understand more about this seemingly crazy old man. After a few demonstrations, the narrator finally convinces himself that Bagus is indeed doing his wonders and that there was no trickery involved. From then on, he becomes a sort of disciple to the old man. The main crux of the story lies in ensuring that a “love rectangle” is resolved and all parties are happy.
Jestus is readable, in the sense that you will have to let go of expectations about getting a reasonable expectation as to how Bagus does all that he does, apart from the constant assertion that he uses only his imagination. Independently, the events are fascinating and will make you want to see where it all ends. But I felt the author should have tried to maintain a modicum of reality in the storylines. Perhaps, that may have given the readers more chance to understand the underlying philosophy in the narration.
P.S. Can I just say how excellent the cover of the book is? It is rare for Indian books to have good covers on the front, but the one used for Jestus relates to the story that’s inside. It also makes you want to open the book and read at least a little.