Patil, Benazir. The 7th Destination.
Patridge India, 2014. Pages 310, Rs. 495.00. ISBN 978-1-4828-1938-0.
The 7th Destination: a journey unfolding the path of seventy times sevenis a maiden novel by Dr. Benazir Patil who is a development specialist by profession. Being born in India, she has been working with several social development organizations both in India and internationally. She has been associated with humanitarian works and has directly touched the lives of the discriminated and disadvantaged. She is a PhD in Public Health Policy and is the author of many academic books.
Khudabakhsh, the protagonist of the novel is an orphan brought up by Zeba, who was a magnanimous story-teller with mystical stories related with Prophets and Saints. She had a bundles of stories based on moral & ethical values. Her stories always astonish him and he wanted to hear them again, and again to keep them afresh in his memory. This was the base which shaped his personality and formed him into a noble human being.
The novel is about exploring the world through mysticism guided by divine spirit of the holy text; Ketab-e-Hayaat. The entire life of Khudabakshwas guided by the seven principles of Ketab-e-Hayaat as he himself says:
Guided by the seven principles that the Ketaab-e-Hayaat had revealed, the most fervent to me was about connectivity. So it was with the places. I had no clue if I was here to fill my mind with some comfort or there existed a connection that took me there. I had asked this to myself often, but I could not dwell on it long, precisely because I lived by my heart. (4)
He is a wanderer by heart who just knew the journey he had to reach. He took a journey from Alvands to the seventh destination in an unstoppable way. For him it was a voyage, clearly undefined but somewhat determined and it had only emerged out of the longing to explore the obvious. The author speaks through the voice of protagonist:
I had no choice; the almighty had made His decisions. Long years, He had created me in His own image and on the seventh day. He had gifted me the whole universe. His most unwavering determination was to pour all His attributes into me, for me to understand the power of seventy times seven. (ix)
After leaving from his native place, Hamadan he just walked and walked throughout his journey and never halted and if so than only for sometimes and he soon resumed the act of exploring the world. He had to face the various facets of life which was nothing but threads of intricately woven destiny which kept on appearing over and over again. The definiteness of this feeling always baffled him. His confrontation with Ayesha was yet another bewilderment of the eternity. He took a journey of fourteen years from Hamadan to reach his seventh destination; FatehpurSikri. After reaching there, his search for God was over.Zeba, a cosmic boon had played a distinct role in the life of Khudabakhsh.
The novel reflects author’s deep knowledge of all the religions and the commonness which different religions possess.She has taken extract from many religious texts in the novel as the following lines of the Holy Quran, the sacred text of Muslims reflects:
“The characteristics of a human are actually the qualities and traits that God possesses and these are merely reflected in human nature
when you observe human being closely. God has immeasurable qualities and you read about it in scriptures coming down to us from antiquity; you find a vivid description of it in almost every holy book; ninety-nine of these are mention in the holy Quran also,” (137)
She has discussed on various nature which human being possesses in the novel, The 7th Destination as in the end she speaks about sin:
“People sin, and the nature of their deeds is acknowledged by their
conscience alone, many of them sin only to realize their own
inabilities and incapacities to measure strength but they forget
that human life is transitory and so are their emotions, one moment
they rejoice and other they regret. That is what is said, when life
hammers you, rejoice not in the pain of the strike but in the depth
of its effect. (303)
We live in an age of extreme professionalism and materialism, where there is vulgarity, obscenity, nakedness and physical urge in the name of love, but in the novel, Benazir has depicted pure love; Platonic love. Shehas laid stress on holistic peace and purity, which is indeed remarkable and makes the novel, a masterpiece. The novel is very mystical in approach as from the beginning till the end it seems that we are in a journey of mystery, spirit and soul.She is a writer who seems to writes from the depth of her mind, heart and even soul.