• Sunday, May 19, 2024

Echoes of Resilience: A Review of 'If I Have to be a Soldier' by Nikhil J. Alva

Explore 'If I Have to be a Soldier' by Nikhil J. Alva. A compelling tale of friendship and conflict amidst Mizoram's tumultuous history. Read now on Frontlist.
on May 07, 2024
Echoes of Resilience: A Review of 'If I Have to be a Soldier' by Nikhil J. Alva | Frontlist

In the mist-shrouded hills of Mizoram, where echoes of insurgency still reverberate through the valleys, Nikhil J. Alva's debut novel, "If I Have to be a Soldier," emerges as a poignant testament to the indomitable spirit of a people caught in the throes of conflict. Set against the backdrop of the 1960s Mizoram uprising, Alva's narrative transports readers to a time when the tranquil beauty of the Mizo hills was shattered by the thunderous roar of fighter jets and the tumult of rebellion.

March 5, 1966, stands etched in the annals of Mizoram's history as a day of reckoning, when the skies above Aizawl erupted in a symphony of destruction. The Indian Air Force's strafing of the city, on orders from Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, left a trail of devastation in its wake, forcing civilians to flee to the sanctuary of the hills and insurgents to seek refuge in the dense jungles of Myanmar and East Pakistan. It was a day that would forever alter the course of Mizoram's destiny, igniting a flame of rebellion that would burn for two decades before being extinguished by the steady hand of the Indian state.

Against this backdrop of chaos and upheaval, Alva weaves a tale of friendship and betrayal, love and loss, as two childhood friends find themselves on opposing sides of a conflict that threatens to tear their world apart. Samuel Rego, the son of a Baptist pastor, and Sena, the rebel son of a teacher, are bound by a bond forged in the innocence of youth. But as the flames of insurgency engulf their homeland, their paths diverge, leading them down separate roads fraught with danger and uncertainty.

It is within this crucible of conflict that "If I Have to be a Soldier" finds its heart, as Alva deftly navigates the complexities of Mizoram's turbulent history with a keen eye for detail and a deep empathy for his characters. Through Samuel and Sena's intertwined destinies, Alva explores themes of identity and belonging, sacrifice and redemption, painting a vivid portrait of a people grappling with the demons of their past while striving to forge a future free from the shackles of oppression.

As the son of renowned politician Margaret Alva, Nikhil J. Alva brings a unique perspective to his storytelling, drawing upon his personal experiences and intimate knowledge of the Northeast region to breathe life into his characters and settings. From the lush hills of Mizoram to the bustling streets of Aizawl, Alva's prose resonates with an authenticity that is as captivating as it is immersive.

In the pages of "If I Have to be a Soldier," readers will find themselves transported to a world where the bonds of friendship are tested amidst the chaos of war, where the line between right and wrong blurs in the fog of conflict, and where the resilience of the human spirit shines brightest in the darkest of times. It is a journey that will leave an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of all who embark upon it, a testament to the enduring power of hope in the face of despair.

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


    Sorry! No comment found for this post.