Book review: Of Aakash and Aarti by Dr Govind Sharma

Many people lead a very sheltered life , where they only read about drug addicts in newspapers and magazines, they have no interaction with them at all. However in places like goa, tourists from all over india are flocking to the state to experiment with different drugs, and the media reports the death of tourists due to drug overdose periodically. These drug addicts and their associates are responsible for a lot of crime in goa, and are allegedly involved in the repeated robberies and burglaries of many homes, including that of the domain investor in panaji, goa.

In their desperation for money, the drug addicts of panaji, are stealing everything including low value items costing Rs 300 or less from homes in panaji, goa and the police in goa refuse to take any action against them. So the book “Of Aakash and Aarti” is a rather unusual story , since the narrator of the story Aakash is a drug addict who is hopelessly addicted to different kinds of drugs. The author has provided a very comprehensive insight into the life of drug addicts, who do anything to get money to pay for the drugs which they consume, and are often deeply in debt. The book provides a glimpse of the life of the addict, how they get addicted and lack the willpower to kick their habit.

The drug addicts are involved in robbery to get money, and it is relevant in places where drug use levels are high, because of these addicts increase in crime rates stealing whatever they can, and people feel very unsafe. For example in panaji in 2018, it is difficult to keep anything valuable. in panaji areas/homes where cctv cameras are not installed , because the addicts are using masterkeys to steal everything. In a similar manner, Aakash in a desperate bid to pay his drug supplier, steals money which is offered in the temple by devotees since he is the grandson of the temple priest, who is highly respected in the area.

The book has described the network of the drug peddlers very well, how they use drug addicts to increase the number of drug users, using them to introduce their classmates to the drug peddler. The drug peddlers are experts in human psychology, they know how to manipulate young people and make them addicted to drugs. The linkage of the drug peddlers and the cricket betting mafia is also exposed. To repay his debt, Aakash is persuaded by his drug peddler to place bets on cricket matches. However he loses the bet, doubling his debt to the peddler, who then torture him, to repay the amount.

The book also provides insight into the life of rich men, how beautiful young women like Aarti can seduce them and make them do whatever they wish. Basant Somani is the richest industrialist in Rajapur, where most of this novel is set, and though he is married to the very good looking Rajeshwari Devi, a Miss Kolkatta, he is always enjoying himself with beautiful women who know how to seduce him.Taking advantage of his weakness for women who seduce him, the young Aarti who comes from a poor family, seduces him and becomes very wealthy in a short period of time. This is particular relevant in the indian internet sector, where top ntro, raw, cbi employees are seduced by call girls and good looking women like school dropout gujju housewife naina,sunaina, siddhi, riddhi, veena get them raw/cbi jobs falsely claiming that these women who do not spend any money online, own domain names, including this one.

It is one of the first books on notebandi or demonetization, describes how rich people converted their black money into white. It appears that jewellers were the preferred option for converting black money into white. Also a large number of unemployed youth were used by drug peddlers to convert their money. Out of jealousy, Rajeshwari Devi, gets Aarti arrested after her expensive ring is stolen, yet Basant Somani gets her freed indicating that powerful and wealthy men are willing to do anything for the young women who seduce them. The book has a rather unexpected ending.

Like all the earlier books of Dr Govind Sharma, this well written book is very readable and realistic, so it is highly recommended for those who have not interacted with addicts anytime in their life, yet live in areas like panaji, goa where the crime rate is high due to drug use.

Of Aakash and Aarti
Author: Dr Govind Sharma, IAS, Retd
Publisher: Notion Press, 2018
Pages : 194
Author review copy