Tanushree Podder’s No Margin for Error is a fictional take on the heroism and bravery of the commandos of the elite Special Forces. On a November evening, Captain Neel Dutta and Major Sam Fernandes find a group of terrorists unleashing carnage on the city of Mumbai. As events that unfold leave 160 people, including 18 police officers and two NSG commandos dead in the attack and some 500 injured, Neel describes the eerie feeling as he travels the empty roads to one of the city’s grandest hotels which he finds aflame. Revisiting a familiar tragedy is at best of times a painful experience, and that is what turns this book into a tribute to the country’s real heroes, who when the moment comes take courage in both hands to face the odds.
As the novel unfolds, it becomes a story of friendship—how Neel and Sam forge an unbreakable bond as brave warriors trained by the Indian Army. It prepares them for a moment of national importance. The book takes a long, lingering look at the raw guts and courage that separates the real men from the weak boys; it prepares them to mock the thunder and laugh at the dark. This is only possible because of the months of rigorous training under instructors who work on erasing all traces of the word ‘fear’ from the lexicon of a commando so that at the end of the course, his blue beret can be replaced by the maroon beret of an elite commando. How else can one willingly plunge into the line of fire?
Only one shall survive that fatal night in Mumbai. The book unravels the choices, the hopes and the raw courage that brought them, head held high, to this crossroads that demands the ultimate price. And it leaves the reader to grapple with the same old question—when time resumes its flow regardless of those who are left behind—how does one grapple with the task of living, honouring and remembering those who put their country before their own lives?
This novel that can be seen as a sequel to Boots, Belts, Berets, takes the reader through the steps of these valiant sons of India who put their lives in the line of fire to emerge victorious. We learn how a boy becomes a man. And it is to this world to which the author invites the reader: the brutal training; the heartbreaks; the internal squabbles; culminating in missions of national importance that bring them face to face, on to the edge.