“The medical system in government run hospitals was too defunct and derelict to serve any real purpose and that in the private world ran on making patients the guinea pigs of many unnecessary tests, CT scans, MRIs and more to pay for their advanced machinery and posh interiors.”
It is this line that made me pick up the book. With an ageing dad who feels the same every-time he goes to the hospital for a check-up and a mom who I lost to cancer, this line spoke to me.
Samrudhi Dash’s third book, ‘Letters from a stranger,’ is a story of a girl named Alina, who is disillusioned by the medical profession that she is a part of. She quits her job as a Doctor in a reputed hospital when she feels it does not serve the very reason, she took up the job for – to help people. In the process she ends up alienating her family and finds herself alone on her journey as she follows her passion. The author manages to weave a brilliant story in 131 pages that takes the reader on a roller-coaster ride that is both humane and inspiring at the same time. ‘Letters from a stranger,’ is a story of grit and determination.
Samrudhi manages to encapsulate the entire gamut of human emotions – pain, betrayal, loss, struggle, success, and failure through Alina’s journey while constantly providing a dose of inspiration in the form of ‘Letters from a stranger.’ The language is simple and flows easily. The characters, in the form of Dr. Gupta, the sadistic professor and Alina, the protagonist are relatable. As one reads the first few pages, one begins to wish the world had more doctors like ‘Alina,’ for whom a patient is not a source of income but a human being with a problem. I especially liked the character of Anil in the book. It is one of those characters that stay with the reader long after the reader finishes the book. What makes the story special is that it depicts life and characters realistically and by doing so, it touches the heart.
The book cover shows the back of a girl carrying a briefcase walking on a chessboard towards a green screen like the monitor which shows a patient’s heartbeat. The ‘chessboard,’ I thought was indicative of the fact that life is a game of chess where one not only needs to plan his or her move wisely but also be aware of other people’s moves without ever losing sight of the end goal. The monitor on the cover is reflective of what the story is all about – the medical profession.
Having known people who have lost their lives to the dreaded disease and others who survived after going through the painful treatment that it involves, I felt the author did a good job in depicting the trials and tribulations faced by cancer patients while also explaining the manner in which a cancer cell behaves, in simple layman terms. In addition to this, the book also gave me an insider’s view of the journey of a student pursuing his/her Ph.D. I had heard of the nightmare that one faces if the student’s guide is difficult to work with. Samrudhi’s book takes the reader through this nightmare. As for the ‘letters from a stranger,’ I believe those doses of inspiration were just the thing that readers in the age group 13 to 28 may require to read from time to time as that is the age when we try new paths, fall, rise and learn in the process. The author does not provide any information on the ‘stranger’ and leaves the reader guessing as to who it might be. I identified the ‘stranger’ as one’s own conscience or that voice inside that helps us hold on, when everything around tells us to give up.
Overall, I found the book enjoyable. For a person who reads slowly and has a ton of responsibilities (especially now during the lockdown), the story got me hooked and I managed to finish reading it in two days. I could not put it down once I reached the second half of the book.
The book is currently available on Kindle for Rs. 125 and on Kindle Unlimited for free. I give it a 5 star for the story and the characters created.
You can buy the book on Amazon, by clicking on the below link
In the words of the author,
A young girl, after a brief stint as a General Surgeon at one of the top private hospitals of Kolkata, is disillusioned by the way the medical fraternity works and decides to make a career shift as a Research Scholar in Molecular Medicine. This disillusionment exposes her to the brutal realities of a violation that is too steeped in the lust for money and power to care for ethics and morality. Abandoned even by her own family because of her decision to choose a new career, she leaves home and returns to Delhi, where she had originally started her career in Medicine and left alone and friendless, is on the verge of a mental breakdown.
But an anonymous letter becomes her guiding light. She gathers her courage and decides to pursue the call of her dreams, determined to reach her destination at all costs.
Who was this anonymous person guiding her in the darkest hours of despair? Would young Alina eventually reach her destination? Or would her dreams be shattered by an arrogant, egoistic Professor she had as her Research Guide? Would she finally know who this anonymous saviour was?
In a fierce battle for survival against all odds, working on a research paper that could open up an arena of infinite possibilities for her, would Dr. Alina Mathur successfully complete her Ph.D. and publish a theory on the possible treatment of oncogenes, targeting tumor suppressor genes and make a breakthrough in the history of medical science? Or would she be subdued and brought down by the forces acting to silence her? How would she plan her moves in this gamble with Time? And finally, would it be her check-mate over Koronos?
A thrilling narrative of how a Doctor turned Researcher manoeuvres her way past the hurdles and roadblocks placed on her path, guided by letters from a mysterious stranger, the plot revolves around ethics, morality, human values and the importance of following the call of your dreams. The novel, peppered with deep insights into how the cosmos works to bring you closer to your dreams, and the protagonist’s brief stint with a cancer patient battling for survival, will leave the reader questioning the very foundations of a civilization we have built and thrive upon, while redefining the true meaning of success.
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