Resident Dormitus is a novel written by an Indian author Vikas Rathi, an IIM-B graduate. It was published in July 2011. It falls under the genre of fiction with theme based on existentialism. It has a fictional storyline with characters and events which appear so familiar, laced with dark humor which makes you introspect more than it makes you laugh, and all the time, probes you to find answer to questions unasked.
When I received this book, I was intrigued by its peculiar title, as to what did it mean. While reading this novel, I came across the significance behind this coined title. The title ‘Resident Dormitus’, as described by the author, signifies the dormant thoughts that reside within a human. One of the characters in the novel, Dev, narrates the incident of how a slave boy was able to see the solution of a geometrical problem which he hadn’t known even existed. This incident signifies that the knowledge is resident is all of us yet we don’t realize it as we don’t probe hard enough to surface our dormant thoughts. Like the title, the central character has a peculiar name ‘Achet’ which signifies someone who has been sleeping for a long time.
The story revolves around the central character in novel, Achet. He hails from a small town, Jaipur. He is fresh out of college and has landed up in Mumbai with a job in a company where he had worked as an intern last summer. He holds a self-centric view of the world, at the most feigning a little interest in what’s going on around in lives of others. He comes across a few people like Dev, Arjuna, Alex and Bala in his corporate circle, each one of them bringing a different perspective into play and hence, having an effect on his thinking. His work takes him to Singapore and then Malaysia, and in this process, he begins the journey of self-discovery, the journey by which he tries to find happiness in the pursuit of meaning, the journey to trigger the dormant thoughts residing in him, the journey that shall ‘wake’ him up.
Apart from the central plot of existential crisis faced by Achet, there are the sub-plots of other characters. Dev, unlike Achet, has had to struggle in his life so far to gain appreciation of even his near ones. But he considers this job as an opportunity to prove to the world his worth and harbors the ambition to reach the topmost position in company. Arjuna, a Sri-Lankan immigrant to Australia, unlike Dev, was content with mediocrity and didn’t think too much about career. He was more concerned with how he could help the Tamils in his country fight for independence. Alex, an Australian but born in Greece, was focused on his career so that he could get a chance to get posted to Greece to find about his origins. Bala was infamous in her company for having loose morals in past, struggling in the present to find a balanced life and settle down.
The author has made use of dark humor very well to make even the mundane events in corporate life appear more interesting with unexpected actions of the narrator and his random thoughts which may actually not appear random on second thoughts. At instances, the story touches the philosophical questions like what is love, how do we find the meaning of our lives, are we happy with the way we have turned up. However, the uniqueness of the novel is in that it doesn’t try to give you an answer, rather it probes you to think about it.
Overall, I find the novel to be a very interesting read. I feel that young working professionals who have just began their journey at the bottom of the corporate ladder who read this novel would feel as if the author is telling a very relatable story through the character of Achet.
To know more about this book, visit this link which contain excerpts from the book and find out yourself if you find it interesting enough to place an order. http://www.vikasrathi.com/about-the-book/