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Rahul Patel

Rahul Patel

Rahul Gandhi believes that history is an important aspect of life. He also believes that history can be tedious and cumbersome as it's often found in large hardcover bound volumes. But being fascinated by the art of writing and storytelling, Rahul believes that historical fiction is the perfect medium to convey historical concepts while fostering the sense of joy received while getting lost in a novel.

Having spoken at a Young Historian's Conference in 2014 about the effect of the witch hunts of the middle ages in Europe on the feminist movement, and being placed first in the first round and fourth in the second round, as well as having studied history at school level, Rahul was well placed to write three pieces on various aspects of history. These works have received mixed reviews.

Despite having a recent focus on historical non-fiction, Rahul has constantly kept the goal of writing a piece of historical fiction. After a lot of research and brainstorming ideas, this goal has materialized into Another Brick in the Wall.

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Another Brick in the Wall

Walls Have Ears and They're Listening

For some it may just be another brick in the wall, but for that brick it is everything and that everything is a story worth knowing.

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Literary Fiction
Johannesburg, South Africa
120,000 words
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Synopsis


“I am stuck, trapped. Claustrophobia overtakes my being. Yet, I am a alone, isolated, not a friend in sight. Neat, cuboid, square. A brick. A brick with a great view that no one else can claim. Great, yes, but terrible.

You choose not to see it because you want to ignore what you have become: a race dominated by love, greed, pain, religion, money, lies, deceit. But I am not you. I am just another brick in the wall. Indifferent, Inconsequential, innately so. And so I watch your daily routines which may seem normal to you but here I am to tell you about the great story of what I see, of life, your life, other people’s lives and the world“
This book is an epic life story, a fictional life story but the first of its kind. Not to be missed, it analyses crucial elements of life which have come to define us, even though we might not notice it, and even if we may not like this reality. The narrator is an outsider, the perfect narrator: judgmental of us, yet objective of our emotions. Don’t miss this, enjoy it, carry on living but remember that walls may just have ears and some of those ears may just be listening.

Audience


Filled with unexpected plot twists, unnerving events, mysterious happenings and grandiose tales that may very well sound like fiction, this book is for a reader who thinks, wonders, marvels and contemplates life and its meaning. It will specifically appeal to readers belong to the historical fiction niche with a specific focus on British history, Christian history, the two World Wars as well as contemporary history.

Author


Rahul Gandhi believes that history is an important aspect of life. He also believes that history can be tedious and cumbersome as it’s often found in large hardcover bound volumes. But being fascinated by the art of writing and storytelling, Rahul believes that historical fiction is the perfect medium to convey historical concepts while fostering the sense of joy received while getting lost in a novel.

Having spoken at a Young Historian’s Conference in 2014 about the effect of the witch hunts of the middle ages in Europe on the feminist movement, and being placed first in the first round and fourth in the second round, as well as having studied history at school level, Rahul was well placed to write three pieces on various aspects of history. These works have received mixed reviews.
Despite having a recent focus on historical non-fiction, Rahul has constantly kept the goal of writing a piece of historical fiction. After a lot of research and brainstorming ideas, this goal has materialized into Another Brick in the Wall, Rahul’s latest book.

Samples

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Five days was all it took for my life to change.
What had once been something that could not be termed as life had turned into something I now know is called life.
'Life', if you can call it that, had been quite uneventful up until the start of those five days. In fact, there was much more of me. The large mass that was me had been there for hundreds of years. Sedentary, unnoticed and very boring. Since this is a story, I will spare you the story of my earlier self. Let me start at the beginning of those five days.
It was an early morning when they came. They hauled me away, despite my desperate efforts to stay back, from my home. But they forced and forced until I was broken. In my broken and hurt form with no resistance to spare, they took me. This was the first time I felt pain. Yet, at that time, how was I to know that this pain would last forever.
I had never seen the world before. In my awe, I almost forgot about the pain. Transported across the jagged landscape, my view was interesting. So many crevices and cliffs in whose shadow one could hide. An interesting thought, until I remembered that I had been stolen and forced from the shade of one such cliff.
Soon enough, the jagged landscape smoothened out into an expanse of rolling countryside. This expanse was dotted with strange structures, the likes of which I had never seen before. Occasionally, I also spotted animals. Mostly sheep. All in all, this rolling expanse seemed quite boring to me.
Eventually, the countryside ended, and my kidnappers and I travelled onto a much more smoother ground. My initial sense of this place was the word 'squashed'. It seemed to me as if the whole countryside was compressed into a square kilometre. Except, the compression did not include the grass and sheep. It only included the strange structures, almost piled on top of one another. In my newfound surprise, I had forgotten how much time had passed. Now that I look back, it seems that four of those five days had passed by this point.
To my dismay, the structures had holes in their sides and revealed their strange inhabitants. In fact they were scarier at the time, for they were the same kind as my kidnappers. Realising that I now had no chance of escape, I waited, absorbing every detail of the strange, new world that surrounded me.
But I did not wait for too long, for before I knew it, we were entering one of these strange structures. Snapped out of my trance, I realised that the temperature had risen considerably and uncomfortably. My newfound interest, maybe even curiosity, was replaced by an uncomfortable anticipation mixed with reluctance. But what did it mean to them? Nothing. I realised that the heat was emanating from a single spot. A structure much like the one we were in, but on a smaller scale. On closer inspection, I realised that it was containing a raging fire.
Before I could have any further realisations, I was tossed into the fire. My initial surprise was quickly replaced by a searing pain encompassing my whole body. The pain lasted for what seemed to be forever before I realised that I was losing myself. Decomposing into nothing.

I woke up, I had once been told, the very next day. Looking back, I don't see how the pain hadn't lasted for a thousand days, instead of a meagre night. I thought I had lost myself. Instead, I had lost more than double of myself. Having no time to wonder where the other parts of me had gone, I looked at myself. I had now become a compressed mass of my former self. Cuboidal, neat and uncomfortably manmade.
In my infinite realisation, I now called those creatures who had destroyed me, man. I also realized that I was not mine anymore. I was, as man willed, his, for he could snatch whatever he wanted to, and it would belong to him. Later on, I saw that he could also snatch one of his own kind, and it would belong to him. Not only did man's forceful and thieving nature set a precedent for mankind but it also, indirectly, set a precedent for the eternal pain that I would come to endure.
In my new form, I was what man wanted me to be. I was a brick as I am today, a brick.

I left this miserable place in something much like what I had arrived in. I later learnt that it was called a wagon. During the long journey across another part of the countryside, the wait had rekindled something in me. Despite the presence of the men in the wagon, and despite its very small presence, I felt a sense of hope. Not the hope that I could return home, for I knew that that would never happen, but the hope of a better life elsewhere. At least a new home much like my previous one.
This hope continued to grow as we travelled across the vast expanse. The peace of the sheep grazing in the fields, and the peaceful nature of the farmers, increased my hope that not all of the manmade world was so bleak, cold and harsh. This hope also increased as the time our journey took increased. Deep inside me, this large span of time meant that we were getting further away from that raging fire that charred my being forever.
I soon found out, along with my shattered hope, that it was futile, for another colossal manmade group of structures began to emerge on the horizon. Not only was it bleak because of its stone grey colour, but I knew it bode evil when it blocked out the brilliant spectrum of colour that shone in the sky out of the setting sun.
The wagon stopped in front of a large piece of land. I, along with companions much like myself, were hurled of the wagon onto the ground.
Before long, the night began setting in and the wagon was long gone. In the silence of the dark night, my hope quietly resurfaced. Such silence often rekindles my hope, I have learnt. At the same time, the dark silence was uncomfortably unquiet, as if it hid dangers lurking beyond my field of view. During that time, I did not know whether to hope for the menacing night to last forever, along with my hope, or for the day to come quickly, as an escape from the dark but a ticket into a man's greedy hands.
But as anything good or bad must end, so did that night. The sunrise did not resurface bringing any hope. All it brought was the anxiety of the arrival of another human. The anxiety did not last long, for that human came. Looking as defeated as myself, I almost felt sorry for him. When he picked me up and began to place me on top of part of a structure, I realized that he was a peasant builder. Sometimes I wonder if peasantry could have existed as early as then, but remembering this builder and his mood resembling mine, I know that it must have existed since the dawn of time or my life.

My witness of the building being built had begun when I was placed onto that colossal structure. Despite being constituted of various larger and smaller pieces in the past, this time when I was joint to others, I did not lose my identity. The pain made me refuse to give my identity away to a massive manmade structure. That experience made me realise the importance of an identity.
In any case, the building speeded up as more and more peasants and slaves of the lower classes began to emerge from the shadows of the depressing morning. Slowly they crawled to the building site. Not a word passed between them as they immediately picked up bricks that looked much like myself, and began placing them on either side of me.
Covered from all sides, but my back and front, I again got that sense of 'squashed', but this time it did not refer to my surroundings but rather to myself.
As time progressed, squashed turned into trapped. Trapped in the monotony of that boring and uneventful scene that was the daily routine of the trapped and monotonous peasant class.
Having nothing else to do, I continued to watch. Time, it seemed, had become inconsequential as I watched the daily pilgrimage of the poor workers from their crudely built hovels in the morning shadows. Then I watched their pilgrimage across the building site. To and fro they went fetching and placing bricks on the building.
Their next pilgrimage was their retirement to their shacks, now bathed in the shadows of the night. Except this retirement brought no relief from then work, which would inevitably continue the next day as before.
Lost in their pilgrimage, I was lost in my trance watching them. Time lost itself as did my feeling of being trapped. In the timelessness of that building site, came certain acceptance of the events that had passed and were passing. Acceptance of never seeing home again, acceptance of being trapped here forever, and acceptance of the miserable life that the slaves were destined to live.

Summer after summer had passed since my kidnapping. Winter after winter, year after year and eventually century after century.
What had begun in 565 AD had now been finished, completely, in 1100 AD. In all her grandeur, Canterbury Cathedral stood casting her shadow across the landscape of Canterbury and across the site of where there were once long forgotten people living in long forgotten shacks.
Now, the Cathedral stood, not for those who has died or suffered building it, but instead for a God and a king who were meant to be standing for all those poor slaves; now all dead.

1139 AD, Theobald of Bec, a virtuous man, was consecrated as Archbishop of Canterbury. Almost directly in front of me he stood as did hope. Theobald being a virtuous man, I hoped that he would free the Church from its political vices. I hoped that he would free the institution that was meant to protect all people regardless of class.
And a good man he was to pin my hopes to. His behaviour was much more pious than Henry of Blois, his main rival in the race to the top of the archdiocese. In fact, when King Stephen of England chose him as Archbishop, I was relieved. Finally, the oppressed people would be free, if not at the hands of their ruler, than at least at the hands of their God.
Daily routine had barely settled in under the new Archbishop, when Theobald called his brother to the cathedral.
'Walter, I have been thinking. Perhaps it would be fitting if you were appointed archdeacon of Canterbury. Considering both our strong moral backgrounds as well as our political non-interference, I have full faith that together we will rebuild the Church to what it should rightfully be.'
'Brother, you are already the Archbishop so what is the need for me. We both know, you are capable of single-handedly restoring the Church to its glory in England, without my help. Also, you have only just been appointed as Archbishop. Appointing your brother as archdeacon so soon after your tenure began? Well, that might cause people to talk.'
'Forget people, this is a holy institution with the protection of God. Now words of Satan may deter me from my goal which I am not scared to admit, I need help with. In fact, I order you to the post of archdeacon. You cannot refuse me.'
'Very well brother, I concede.'
At that moment, I got a mixed sense of Theobald's piousness, humility and religious belief. My hopes strengthened. Now under the guidance of two morally strong individuals, it was only a matter of time before the people of England would be liberated.
However, when Theobald attended a council held by Stephen not too long after, my hope faltered. At the council, Stephen truly displayed his non-tolerance for religious leaders.
I was told that Stephen's imperious manner was evident as soon as he entered the council chamber. His attendants announced him in as aloof a manner and he trudged in with a visibly and poorly contrived Grace. He languidly approached his chair and sat down, clearly seated higher than the rest. As he began speaking he looked down his greasy nose at the members of council, almost disregarding them but seeing it essential that he spoke to them nevertheless.
'It is to my knowledge, essential that Bishops Roger of Salisbury, and his nephews, Nigel of Ely and Alexander of Lincoln, be deprived of their castles. The reasons for such action is confidential and is only privy to my private council of advisors. The Archbishop of Canterbury is advised to comply with this order from the Crown', declared Stephen haughtily.
'Ah, your Majesty, you forget that jurisdiction of my diocese extends much further than that of the Crown. Such a notion is by papal order. As such, without disclosing the reasons for the deprivation of the three Bishops' castles, I cannot allow their castles to be seized by the Crown.' Theobald replied with vehement conviction.
'What you can and cannot allow, is none of my business. I am the supreme authority in this land, and no Pope or Archbishop with their inconsequential realms may counter my orders. The Crown's jurisdiction is universal. Do not forget that your diocese is subordinate to my government as is your position, which, coincidentally, I have provided.' Stephen told Theobald in a more uptight and imperious manner.
'Very well, your Majesty. Canterbury has no option but to comply but do not forget this moment when you have disgraced the Church and undermined my authority. I too will remember this day.'
You might wonder how I saw all of this if I wasn't in the building where the council was being held. Well, it is simple. A faithful servant of the Church, Gervase, informed me as he attended on the Archbishop that day.
While Theobald's response to the king was undoubtedly intelligent and effective, I could not help but feel my hope leaving. A man who I had thought was only holy in nature, and uncorrupted by the world, turned out to be a shrewd man who seeked vengeance.
You might not be convinced that Theobald was vengeful by just seeing his response to the king, however that was not all I saw. Later, after arriving from the council, Theobald consulted Gervase regarding the matter.
'Gervase, my faithful servant, today we have got a sense of our place in this realm. We are nothing but poor representatives of God, and poor servants of the king.'
'Your Grace is too accepting of the circumstances'
'Ah, Gervase! But you have misunderstood me. You take my quiet laments as an acceptance of the perceived defeat. I will fight for the castles of Roger, Nigel and Alexander. It is rightfully theirs, as per their offices. It is time that the Clergy received the respect that is given to the nobles. I assure you Gervase, this will never happen again. Never again will the manmade monarchy undermine the divine Church.'
At that time, I thought his anger was understandable, but now I realise, it was normal of clergymen to behave so, no matter what the occasion.
Nevertheless, Theobald continued to impress me with his virtues.
Many a time, townspeople would approach him for council. I watched as he silently heard stories of immense sin. My fears were confirmed as far as the human race was concerned. Hearing so many confessions of adultery, theft and just general malice on the part of churchgoing people, I felt certain that such things defined humankind.
However, despite his uncomfortable political stance, Theobald continued to somehow cast doubt on my confirmed fears, inadvertently so. He silently listened to these tales of horror, while passing no outward judgement. Of course his inner judgement of these people was natural, as was mine, but his ability to restrain that judgement, if it even existed, surprised me.
After listening, he would then proceed to whisper quiet words of faith, belief, hope and ultimately good. He whispered, never preaching, but helping those who have gone astray find the path to righteousness again. Could any creature, let alone a human, absorb so much negative energy yet project such a bright halo of hope in that darkness, without a taint too? I doubted it until I saw Theobald.
Unfortunately, this one good man could not erase the images of the slaves, building this cathedral whose luxury Theobald so enjoyed. Nevertheless, I hated politics but I grew fond of Theobald. A worldly and divine man; the perfect intermediary between man and what man calls his God.
A woman by the name of Cecilia came to seek Theobald's counsel, not too long after his clash with the King.
'Your Grace, I have come to seek your advice. I have erred greatly and my guilt is so that it threatens to kill me.'
'What is your name? Is your name God? Regardless of your sin, you cannot take your life. The Lord has given you this life and only he has the right to claim it. If you kill yourself, or allow your sins to kill you, then that is a greater sin.'
'But I… I have committed something that I cannot even bring to my lips.'
As I watched this quiet exchange, Cecilia struggled to make her confession as she broke down into uncontrollable sobs. It never ceased to surprise me how Theobald stayed composed during times like these. But he relentlessly broke down the barrier that Cecilia's emotions were proving to be.
'Dear child, you must confess your sin. It is our nature to sin, but it is also our nature to seek forgiveness from the Lord.' Theobald replied gently.
Cecilia's tensed shoulders dropped. She has begun to relax but her speech still rattled as if she were shivering from cold.
'Can I…Can I really beg forgiveness! Is it my right after what I have done?'
'The Lord always forgives the errs of his children. You may not confess your sin to me or any other man for that matter, but you must remember to sincerely seek atonement from the Lord. Go now and put you mind at ease by praising the Lord.'
Cecilia tearfully thanked Theobald for his advice but still sobbed, as if she was to be eternally doomed or haunted by her crime.
Whatever her crime, her emotional state made it clear to me that it was very serious. Theobald must have been aware of this, but still confirmed that their God would forgive her. The conviction with which Theobald assured her of forgiveness, bewildered and unnerved me for if every sin of theirs were forgiven, would they continue to commit even graver sins? Is that the reason why slaves were traded and worked to near death? Were they sure to be forgiven of their sins?
Perhaps, my thought extended, they have created this idea of universal forgiveness to justify why they could go against the morals of their kind. Perhaps my observation goes best ignored, but only by these humans themselves? I suppose I shall never know.

Countless others like Cecilia approached Theobald on a daily basis. His gentle manner confused me. Was he turning these sinners away from the path of evil or was he inadvertently encouraging their belief that they were invincible?
Either way, Theobald impressed me. Sadly not everyone was impressed.

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