Remember the story of The Midas Touch– The man who touched anything and turned it to gold? Can one be born with The Midas Touch effect in today’s world? A Sum of Our Choices by Chaitanya Salvi tells the story of a young business magnate who has been considered to be a lucky boy. For Ashutosh Paranjpe, nothing is impossible! Coming across as a man who means business and considers time as money, Ashutosh is yet to imbibe the value of emotions and relations – reminding readers a little of Arjun Saluja from Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara ! Things turn topsy-turvy when his workaholic nature leads to a break in his relationship with his long-term girlfriend; followed by his arrest on the grounds that his company cheated people of their money. At this point ones gets to understand Ashutosh closely from when he was a child to where he stands today – his life, principles, actions and thoughts.
“While living life, we fail to understand what does living a life mean. We tend to ignore the meaningful stuff and end up running behind unworthy and trivial things.’’ The Ashutosh one reads about has no time for inconsequential things in life. His blinding ambitions make him ignore relationships. This makes the reader stop and wonder if earning money is everything or relationships, emotions and even personal feel-good factor come before them. Would one not want to take some time off and spend walking along their favorite part of the city? No mobile phones, No annoying clients, No emergency planning – Just the quaint Nature and One’s Thoughts! Would one not experience joy by taking one’s partner / spouse on a holiday, a movie show or a candle light dinner date? Sometimes ambitions come in the way of making these precious memories alone or with our loved ones and in the course of time the way life is meant to be lived is forgotten. Instead one is busy chasing the unending cycle of fame and money like animals chasing their tails!
A Sum of Our Choices follows a simple storyline and yet touches upon the essence of life and actions – Destiny and Karma. “Destiny is a situation presented to you. You can choose how to react to it. And your reaction, to the situation presented by destiny, is your karma.’’ It takes years to understand the meaning of this never-ending cycle of action and reaction according to the philosophy of life. But Salvi has put it quite simply for the readers to grasp the sum of these terms. What is important to contemplate is how a person reacts to the situation. It is said a person isn’t born good or bad, their actions make them what they are. Similarly, a person has the freedom to choose what their reactions will be in a certain circumstance. Their decisions are always based on their needs, values, morals, and prejudices. In this quick span of decision- making an individual might take the right path or end up being wrong- but whatever the action, one has to bear the subsequent reactions in life.
Salvi has poignantly portrayed the protagonist of his novel as a lucky man. But how can one define luck? Is it possible for someone to be repeatedly lucky throughout their lives? Is luck the driving force behind a person’s life and actions? The relation between luck, karma and destiny is quite a twisted one. To simplify it, Destiny throws a situation and Karma is the action; but Luck is the consequences of Karma. Putting it straight, Luck is a myth to cover up the reactions of Karma. Or, Luck and Karma can be simultaneously used to denote the same actions. Even then it makes the readers wonder about each of the terms and their inter-relations.
Ashutosh in his journey, meets many who devote themselves to the service of their community. This selfless approach to life makes him retrace his decisions and imbibe newer principles through his experience. He chooses to pay it forward by doing well to someone just as somebody had helped him in life. It is an important takeaway for the readers that one must visualize help as selfless service without expecting anything in return. What best they can do to compensate is to help another when in dire need. Service to the community helps in making a person humble devoid of ego or arrogance which are the source of all troubles.
The crux of this novel will be incomplete if one does not discuss about Life. It is indeed A Sum of Our Choice. Life is that circle in which Destiny and Karma rotate together throwing challenges at a person to make them travel through this spiritual journey. Life is a chapter in itself and cannot be discussed in a paragraph. It is the essence of action and reaction. Whether one leads a good, bad, humble or arrogant life depends completely on how one chooses to live it.
A Sum of Our Choice is a beautiful explanation of man as a spiritual being through fictional characters. The philosophical layers explaining the meaning of life unfolds one by one within the pages of the book. A straight forward story rich in philosophy, it makes up for a good read.
No .of Pages: 300
Publisher: Flipping Pages
Available at: Amazon
*Disclaimer: I would like to Thank Siddhi Palande for sending a review copy of the book.