“Aftershock” – A short novel by Shri Haresh Dholakia

‘Shock’ is when something happens, when least expected. Many social, scientific, historical or psychological treatises have documented such ‘shocks’. However, the matter does not end with the ‘shock’. Many related events keep on happening after the main – initial, principal – ‘shock’ – which are popularly known as “Aftershocks”.

The ‘shock’, or for that matter ‘aftershock’, too, can range in severity, from very light to extremely devastating. It is also not necessary that if the ‘shock’ is not severe, the ‘aftershock’ also will not be severe, or vice versa. Nature will behave in any random manner, because it is the nature. The effects or results of the ‘shock’ /’aftershock’ can be happy or can be sordid; these can be physical or emotional and can impact an individual or family or society or nation or the whole world severally or in some set(s) combinations or collectively. The effects can be ephemeral and transient or can be epochal and far-reaching.

Kutch experienced such a ‘shock’ on 26th of January, 2001 by way of a high intensity ‘massive’ earthquake.  More than 14,200 people have been feared to have perished and an estimated 600,000 were left homeless, in the aftermath of this quake. As a matter great credit to the grit of the people of Kutch, aided by a very generous immediate and mid-term help from the outside world, Kutch has resurrected itself, like sphinx, in the subsequent decade.

There has been extensive documentation of the physical aspects of the devastations and resurrection and reportages of human misery or of the human grit as well. But, as Shri Haresh Dholakia records in the Preface to his short novel, ’Aftershock’, there is hardly any fictional narratives on the human side of this particular ‘shock’ and thereafter. Our mind conjures up the memories of a similar event that has similar massive fallout on human life – the 1947 Partition. This had given rise to a vast variety of fictional works – short stories, novels and even movies.

Shri Dholakia happened to attend a meeting of some ’well-known’ withers in Bhuj, few months post-quake and resolved to write  representative fictional account of the holocaust as well as the human pathos. Our current short-novel owes its existence to germination of this idea in, otherwise, by nature, mind of an essay-writer. As he has indicated in the preface, he took enough time to give final, publish-able, shape to the idea, because the idea vacillated between two extremes of  ‘whether such a thing can ever happen in a real life’ rationale of a natural logic-bound essayist  and a pure, sheer creative urge of  a creator of a fiction-based literature.

Such an enticing introduction to the genesis of this book does start ringing of silent bells in the minds of the reader at the very start of the book. The reader is, thus, already in the state of off-the –edge’ of ‘what-next?’, which is further accentuated by the author’s matter-of-fact descriptive style to take him /her on a simultaneous journey of what the author would have in his mind for the next event.

The novel begins with an easy paced dilemma of a young civil engineer for his – unwittingly split loyalty between a happy family of a beautiful, loving and care-taker wife and a son and his unexplainable, but equally irresistible, love for the young daughter of his one of the senior customers. But before the reader can digest this minor ‘shock’, the author jolts the reader out of this romantic reverie, through that fateful earthquake of 2001.

Shri Haresh Dholakia is essentially a logical essayist. So his narratives flow between the logic and imagination. If his narratives do not seem to fly off on the wings of imaginations of a natural creator of fictional literature, the narratives do not sound too matter-of-fact, as well. The breadth of his narrative is not so constrained, by his natural logic, which the reader cam make out what is happening on the opposite end of the shore of his next-moves. Nor is it so unwieldy to be beyond the reach of likelihood of the logic of real-life feasibility of the events.

The reader moves on with the author, feeling the tremors of quake, feeling hurt by its immediate impacts, feels depressed with the principal protagonist, lives with him without any food for several days in the funeral-pyre place, decides to surrender to the Almighty when intellect and emotions have been totally blunted out, gets the message of self-less perseverance from the untiring work put in by the sages and gets rejuvenated from the childlike innocence of his son and pensively joins the process of building his life from the ruins of the quake.

The story line now moves from the past and the present to the future. As always happens in the fictions, his son ‘happens’ to have a chance, cursory meeting with a demure and smilingly under-stated beauty during his visits to the campus library of his University as he now pursues his study in graduation for IT.   The ‘chance meeting’ blossoms into ‘controlled’ affection, and then into the strong bond of love between the two youngsters, As the experienced reader of fiction would certainly expect. The relationship is seen to rise to a crescendo in the course of passage of time. Reader starts feeling the inkling of a storm in this gathering of clouds, even while the love-birds get the endorsement of the father, our principal protagonist of the past of the story, and his other family members.

Oh well, we should not narrate out the details of the story here, for that would foretell the element of underlying suspense and thrill that has spell-bound the reader with the follow of the story. The story is best enjoyed when read with the readers’’ own perceptions and points of views.

The story has now undertaken a different shape than a simple fictional love story, flourishing in the back drop of rejuvenated Kutch. One now undergoes a series of  ‘Aftershocks’, happening in random time scale, with varying intensities, akin to what Kutch has undergone as it re-built itself after the ravages of that fateful, massive quake. The reader vicariously feels the emotional impacts of these ‘aftershocks’.

Every turn in the story does not happen in line with the expectations of the reader. And when it does, the reader finds that author has been able to present the reasons different than what he/she had thought of. Thus, as you read “aftershock”, you feel the similarities with Alfred Hitchcock story or film, where ‘shocking’ events happen when the viewer least expects it or do not happen, certainly not, when the viewer has expected it.

So, the reader keeps on reading through the pages with a tense expectation of an ‘unknown known’ event happening, till suddenly he /she realizes that book is already over. There are questions not answered or answers for which questions were not asked. The reader is left to conjure up own version of what would happen in the lives of the protagonists, why it would happen that way, and what would happen if things happened the way they do.

“Aftershock” is indeed a very bold experiment of handling a rather unorthodox subject in somewhat unusual style by an author who is essentially not a known fiction-writer. On a cursory reading what may appear to be a story of unfulfilled love, in two generations, is in fact a welcome attempt to look at the impact(s) of a major physical event on the lives of the individuals.

  • Aftershock , Gujarati novel

–     Author: Shri Haresh Dholakia; hareshdholakia@yahoo.com

–          Publisher: R. R. Sheth & Co. Pvt. Ltd., Mumbai /Ahmedabad ǁ www.rrsheth.com

–          ISBN 978-93-81315-73-6

–          First Edition: February,2012

–          Price Rs. 125/-

“Ishvar Parmar – The Multi-dimensional Creator”

The Institute of Youth Development, Bhuj-Kutch has taken up a giant stride in publishing a booklet – “Ishvar Parmar – The Multi-dimensional Creator”/ ઇશ્વર પરમાર – બહુઆયામી સર્જક”  –  to document briefly the literature of Dr. Ishvar Parmar – a dedicated teacher and a versatile literary personality. There cannot be any debate on the utility of such a booklet in terms of critically documenting the literary contribution of likes of Dr. Ishvar Paramar. The simple looking task certainly assumes far greater  significance when viewed in terms of catalytic role such booklets can play in acting as bridge between otherwise distant reader and the ‘the creator working form a corner’.  It is indeed an act of great service.

Born in Reha, Kutch on 6th October, 1941 to Shri Damajibhai Paramar and Smt. Ramkunvarben Paramar, Dr. Paramar has settled in Dwarka in the dedicated pursuit of his chosen profession of the teacher. The family was in the business of farming, small time trading and construction contractors, but Dr. Paramar was destined to become a dedicated teacher. Early schooling in Kutch and then in Mumbai [Bombay, in those days] ,therefore did not stop at graduation in Economics, but went on to additional education by way B.Ed. (Gujarati-Hindi) to further M.Ed. and M.A. (Hindi). His wife, Smt. Artiben was also a teacher and so are the two daughters.

The subject of his doctorate thesis – Review of Educational References in the Gujarati Social Novels of pre-Independence 1937-47 decade and post-Independence 1967-77 decade – epitomizes the hidden dimensions of a researcher and a literary creator embedded simultaneously in a teacher that makes the “Ishvar Paramar” – a multi-dimensional virtuoso.

His multi-tasking forays have successfully continued even when he was a full – time dedicated, creative, experimenter, and innovator teacher first.

His literary urge itched him when he was 10, and he was ‘infatuated with a wish to see his name below any writing’. This dream came true soon enough when his poem “ Mini maasi e laaadvaa khaadhaa [Aunty Cat hogs sweets]” in Children Section of the daily Janshakti. Since then, the rigors of his own studies or duties of a teacher could not dampen the flow of his literary works.

His literary works include Children Literature, Parental Care literature, Children Literature critique, Pedagogic and Training literature. He has also been actively involved in the editorial responsibilities of textbook writing, Consultation for textbooks and co-authoring the textbook for the teachers’ training.

He credits his ‘practice of pleasing the inner mischievous innocence’ for his interest in as well as originality of his works of children literature1.  His statement, ‘Just went on writing’ is simple reflection of his inherent modesty and natural creativity. His children literature very easily straddles child development and child care aspects. His writing style is savoury enough to keep the interest of the children engaged and his language just simple. Short, but meaningful sentences and special sound-like words have introduced a whiff of freshness in Gujarati Literature for the children. His underlying philosophy has been to “make children come to stories, preferably tell them the stories”. Not known to work in large numbers , but to create high-quality, he has 12 children story books, 7 critiques and 5 child care books in his repertoire.

Dr. Paramar has indeed documented his professional life in the form of his books on Education and Training2. These books truly reflect his mettle as teacher and researcher – e.g. his knack to recognize individuals and his planned, meticulous approach. His language does sound that of a teacher, which helps in arresting the counter-thought process of even his disagreeing reader. Shri Raghuvir Chaudhari has aptly summed this up while reviewing his book – ‘Education in the social novels’ – based on his doctoral thesis: “This thesis will be noted for Shri Paramar’s scientific work-style and brevity and will be a torch-bearer of the subsequent researchers. This is because of deep-rooted embedded true sensitivity of a live critic, rather than that of a teacher’s thought-process only.”

Dr. Ishvar Paramar ‘s literary reach3 has transcended the boundaries of children, education and training literature. The natural brevity of his style has resulted in several extra-short stories. He has effectively used readers’ imagination to transmit the subtle meaning in his such stories. He has very adroitly deployed similes to heighten the impact in his extra-short stories. Dr. Parmar has very successfully maintained an arm’s distance as a writer, from his personal beliefs and feelings, while compiling poems on Krshna and Dwaraka  in ‘I saw the Dvaramati’ [‘દીઠી અમે દ્વારામતી’]  or while introducing the  work of Krishna in ‘ Karunasagar Dvarkadhish’ [‘કરૂણાસાગર દ્વારિકાધીશ’].

The young, neo-literary-critics – Pooja Kashyap Soni, pujaks12@yahoo.in ,   [‘Dr. Ishvabhai Paramar’s Children’s Literature’ 1] – (“ડૉ. ઇશ્વરભાઇ પરમારઃ બાળસાહિત્યકાર”), Pallavi K Shah, plvshah@gmail.com , [‘Dr. Ishvar Parmar’s Educational Literature’2] (“ડૉ.ઇશ્વર પરમારનાં કેળવણી વિષયક પુસ્તકો” )અને Mona Liya , monabhuj@gmail.com, [Dt. Ishvar Paramar’s Other Literature’ 3]  (“ડૉ. ઇશ્વર પરમારની અન્ય સાહિત્યકૃતિઓ”) – have been able to full justice to the entire spectrum of Dr. Paramar’s literary life within the constraint of  the short space allotted to them.

Even granting that this booklet is a ‘small step’ in documenting the all-round , all-encompassing review of Dr. Ishvar Parmar’s literary works, its value would have multiplied manifold if the appended list of his books would have included additional details like name of the publisher, year of publication and price. This would have brought the readers almost at the doorstep of the treasure of Dr. Paramar’s wroks..

The Institute of Youth Development can extend the reach of this highly valuable effort by digitizing the booklet and then deploying the digital distribution platforms.


  • Dr. Ishavar Paramar : Oppostite Sidhdhnath, Dvaraka 361 335       Cell Phone: +91 94 27 28 47 42
  • Publishers: The Institute of Youth Development, 23, Ambika Society, Hospital Road, Bhuj – Kutch 370 001 //  iyd.bhuj@gmail.com
  • Editor: Shri Haresh Dholakia, New Mint Road, Bhuj- Kutch 370 001  //  haresh.dholakia@yahoo.com

Search a totally meaningful English equivalent of the word, શક્તિ [शक्ति]

The October,2011 issue of Navneet  Samarpan is a Diwali ‘Shakti’ Special issue and has been presented as an ‘attempt to link the ancient and contemporary interpretations of Shakti.’1. This issue is also quite classically aligned to its editorial objective of ‘spreading knowledge in the fields of life, literature and culture.’2

The thematic technical articles cover a  very wide range of subjects, ranging from philosophical and metaphysical aspects of the forms of Shakti to contemporary forms like Art, Internet, People-power , power-of-feminism etc., including a concise treatise on physical sources, usages and challenges relating to energy.

Selection of classical painting of the one of prime form of Shakti, the Sun, with its leaping sun flames and spectrum of solar heat as the cover page, duly supplemented by a large number of photographs of paintings of several other forms of Shakti, lends the issue in the Collectors’ category.

However, the present purpose to try to search a totally meaningful English equivalent of the word, શક્તિ [शक्ति], with the help of discussions contained within different articles in the present issue, currently under my reading.

We take up first the implications of two of the most obvious and popular equivalents – Power and Energy.

Power, at best, seems to convey a very partial meaning, by way of presenting static and /or kinetic and /or dynamic forms, like wind-power, people-power etc. or potentials, like capability, force, energy, source, life, capacity, adventure etc.. It is also perceived or seen through its elements like origin, status, rhythm, conservation, nourishment, conveyance, expansion, change re-construction, resurgence etc.3

These are still its philosophical or metaphysical forms or expressions, whereas its physical forms are, generally, known as Energy, so as to differentiate from the non-physical forms.4

The energy, the physical Shakti, is stored in the five basic elements, viz. earth, wind, water, fire etc. or the actions thereof. Its metaphysical forms are like sensation, liveliness, thoughts [or thinking], intellect, ego etc., differentiating these from its beneficial super-natural philosophical forms.5

Word or language or concept or sign also have contextual meanings. ‘ललितसह्स्त्रनाम’, an Indian epic of One-Thousand-Names of the supershakti  [महाशक्ति] , enlists such one thousand contextual  names. Of these 259th and 260th are ‘Invisible’ [अद्रश्या] and ‘Beyond-the- Vision’ [द्रश्यरहिता] 6 respectively. What cannot be seen or visualized with the help of physical eyesight vision is ‘Invisible’ [अद्रश्या] whereas what is beyond the vision and /or perception and /or worldly considerations is ‘Beyond-the- Vision’ [द्रश्यरहिता].

The शक्ति of conviction can also not be fully explained by ‘power’ of one’s conviction, as exemplified by the Ho-Chi-Minh’s  belief that he as ‘Gandhi of Vietnam’, which is considered at the root of the primitive agrarian Vietnam’s successful fight against the might of sophisticated weaponry of industrialized America.7

Shakti has deep and sweeping meanings for a variety of usages in the Indian Philosophy. Sir John Woodruff, an expert of Philosophy, justifiably states that:  There is no equivalent word in any other language, because in the context of the universe, Shakti is the cause as well as action of the world, which itself is born from Shakti’s embryo.8

It can well be surmised from the foregoing that there is no substance in this world which does not contain Shakti in some or other form.9

So, what is शक्ति in English?

References to articles of Navneet  Samarpan October’2011 issue:

  1. The message of Shri Surendralal G Mehta, Chairman, Bhartiya Vidya Bhawan; pp 11
  2. The message of Shri Homi Dastur, Executive secretary , Bhartiya Vidya Bhawan, pp 15
  3. શક્તિતત્વની વિભાવના – નિસર્ગ આહીર, pp 7
  4. આરાધના ઊર્જાની – ડૉ. પરેશ વૈદ્ય, pp 41
  5. શક્તિતત્વની વિભાવના – નિસર્ગ આહીર, pp 9
  6. મહાશક્તિ – અદ્રશ્યા – દ્રશ્યરહિતા – રાજેશ વ્યાસ ‘મિસ્કિન’ , pp 13
  7. વિચારશક્તિ – ગુણવંત શાહ , pp 30
  8. શક્તિતત્વની વિભાવના – નિસર્ગ આહીર, pp 8
  9. શક્તિતત્વની વિભાવના – નિસર્ગ આહીર, pp 8

How can the post-60s Gujarati literature benefit from Internet and digital technology?

I was reading poems of Shri Bhagawati Sharma today in Navneet-Samarpan’s August’11 issue.

He is one of those contributors of Gujarati prose and poetry who enable Gujarati literature to stand up to the then popular trend of English literature by the range of subjects, use of the modern form of gujarati language as well as the themes.

My memory also recalls some of favourite Gujarati writers –  Shivkumar Joshi, Chandrakant Baxi, Anil Joshi, Harindra Dave, Mohammad Mankad, Raghuvir Chaudhari, Madhav Ramanuj; stellar mgazines – Chandani, Akhand Anand , Kumaar or Stars of Children literature – Vijaygupta Maurya, Hariprasad Vyas, Gandiv, Ramakadun.

I, and many more like me, have not been able to maintain contact with these in the subsequent years, probably on account of limited reach of Gujarati print medium.

With advent of internet and digital technology from the start of 21st century, access to the new, techno-savvy, generation’s literary work has been easier.

However, it it seems that need of the hour is collaboration of individual and collective efforts of Writers , Publishers and all techno-savvy Gujaratis to revitalize the treasure of Gujarati Literature, subject of course to due respects to commercial and IPR interests,  with the help of the digital technology.