“Mumbai mera seher mera ghar”(Mumbai my city, my home)- Can you ever imagine this statement said by a foreigner? But it is.
After escaping from an Australian Prison, Gregory Roberts came to Mumbai in the year 1980. “When I came here I was a hunted man with a price on my head, a man who had lost everything, my family, my home and the life I’d have known”- Gregory David Roberts
“Majha Nav Shantaram Ahe” (My name is Shantaram) – Imagine an Australian telling this. Strange isn’t it?
For Shantaram, Mumbai was the city where he found love and salvation. Slums thought him humility, People showed him love.
He spent his time as smuggler, gunner and street solider as a Mafia. He founded a free medical clinic for the slum dwellers.
One man who is a criminal, a convict and a fugitive; a thinker, a philosopher and a writer; a son, a father and a human being. A person who was on a run for years of time for the ultimate sin of murder had committed almost all the 7 deadly sins.
A person who has captured his unbelievable life stories in a best seller titled “Shantaram”.
Back in college days he was a college leader, its because of the social preference that came from his family especially his mother. He belonged to a family that was money poor but book rich, he grew up as a child surrounded by books. His place was like a political house and people came from different places came to meet his mother and uncles who were political people trying to raise the Standard of Living and make world a better place.
“People in my family were committed to social causes”- said Gregory. Well curiosity urges us to explore his mind isn’t it?
A person belonging to family with bunch of people dedicated to the social causes, why would he take to the world of crime?
He narrated that he was too young and weak minded to deal with. He was at the university building his career as a professor and writer. It all started when his wife left him and fell in love with an American guy leaving three and half month daughter with him. His wife again returned to Australia after 18 months and sued for the custody and won the case. His daughter was 5 years old when she was forcibly separated from her father. Sad Gregory was figuring out the space to end his life, in the meantime one of his friends visited him as he came to know about the court case. Looking at the condition of Gregory to calm him down, he rolled his sleeves up and gave him his first dose of drugs (heroin) that made him become an instant junkie. He became so much desperate for drugs that he sold out all he had of any value and entered the world of crime.
He says that his whole life was destroyed through his own weaknesses and immaturity. “You get into a very strange paradigm when you are living such a life”- he said.
Shantaram is a novel with very colourful stories and different characters and events. It is a perfect blend of fact and fiction. The Author claims that all the events in book are real which he has experienced, but the stories and characters are created.
Anil Dharker, Journalist narrated that- “One day a foreigner turned up to me and gave me a kind of article to read and I found it absolutely fascinating and that time he was actually living in slums of Bombay and the article was published in Mid-day Sunday media as a series which I believe was a beginning of the book”.
Shantaram is an amazing story of transformation of a guy who escaped from Australian prison, lived in slums and treated people with his goodness, involved with mafia and under world and now having contacts with people in Bollywood, being with journalists and writers.
He believes that -“Every person has a tiger within him and it is sometimes circumstances in our lives that forces him to show that tiger”. “The real hope that any of us have that if at ever once we had to show the tiger that we get a chance to return to the life of love and friendship again and I’ve been very very lucky that this opportunity happened to me”- said Gregory.
As a reader I drew some points from this novel – It is not a person who intentionally does the wrong things but the situation in life that forces him to do so. The love care and affection helps the person to overcome the weakness and help him transform again. Over all it is the stronger will-power to transform that helps the person to survive and sustain in the difficult situations.
The life events and the circumstances inspired Gregory David Roberts to write A Masterpiece -‘Shantaram’. What inspires you? share your story with us.