Astha Suneja

A Handful Of Seventeenth Hill

About the Author:

Astha Suneja (August 6, 1987) works with Tata Consultancy Services.  She is a motivational speaker and has addressed a lot of people with her vibrant thoughts and unique ideas about life. The only thing close to her life is travelling.  This is her third novel and she has a natural inclination towards writing. She believes that writing comes with observation and experiences. With her strong determination and a frog in heart, as she calls it, she has given practical shape to a lot of her desires and dreams.

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Nanu is my elder brother, elder only by age, says Gauri.

People say that we live a handful of life in a handful of world – A world in the seventeen hills.

We work in tea gardens located in the fifth hill. First hill is the Tara Mandal –we used to visit the place to see “conestilations” when Father was alive. Now, he isn’t. But, we have a charpai, with the last stain of Father’s blood and his discarded shirt that stay with us in the seventeenth hill. Seventeenth hill is home – just home.

Avioz tells me that there is Earth beyond the seventeen hills. And that the Earth is Round.” Avioz is a traveller, an explorer. He says that it is ‘constellation’ and not “conestilation” – he had learnt this in school. We never went to school – Just like Ma was ma, Father was father, Nanu was Nanu, so not going to school was not going to school.

Kiri Dadu thinks that Nanu should leave the seventeen hills so that he can go to school. I don’t think so. Nanu does.

Avioz tells that he is a traveller but I think he lies to me. He is a magician. He makes me live a parallel life through his golden, coppery tinted eyes – those eyes which intoxicate me. I discover several new lives in mine that teach me the true meaning of my existence. Also yours.

So, says Vasco – A Handful of Seventeenth Hill.

About the book:

The storyline is based on life in mountains mainly secluded ones inspired by Coonoor, India. Three people – Gauri, Ma and Nanu stay in seventeenth hill. Nanu and Gauri are siblings while Father is dead. All they know if this world is the seventeen hills. They work in tea gardens and earn their living. The story builds up with character building of all of them along with telling the reader about their lives – life without science, school, development or lots of people. The plot is built beautifully with keen observation and constant emotional hikes.

One day, Kiri dadu proposes that Nanu should go to the city with the officials who would educate him. Gauri is sad about it and wants Nanu to stay back. Nanu leaves and now they are just two – Gauri and Ma. The plot continues with the changed lives and nostalgic emotions.

Gauri fails to understand what the meaning of her life is. She has no destination but follows the direction blindly. This is when she meets Avioz, the traveler who has come from Israel. She finds him magical with his coppery tinted eyes attracting her very often. The plot builds when he tells her about the Earth, the planets, the telescope, and other elements of existence that she is ignorant about. Gauri is amused to hear that things like this exist and there is a world beyond the seventeen hills – a world that has more than what she could have thought it did!

This is followed by another turning point in their lives, when Avioz guides her to a parallel life, where Gauri meets Avioz in various forms. The plot builds as a new story with constant switch between the real world and the parallel world. Avioz, says his coppery tinted eyes make him immortal – he has lived several lives in one. He guides Gauri through those lives which teach her about the purpose of existence.

The parallel world has magic, fantasy, philosophy and learning about life. This is a constant page turner with elements that cause goose bumps. She meets him in different forms while plot is built for the same. This part teaches about life with constant fictional elements making it interesting.

At the end, when she returns to the real world, Gauri realizes that she is still the same person but has a new vision. What else changes? Does she find Nanu? Where is Avioz? Does she get answers to the questions of her life?