The human population is increasing and in an effort to house everybody we are clearing away the natural resources. Acting ignorant to this impending danger we continue. Those who already inhabit this concrete jungle do not have a vent to display their destructive ability.
However, this comes out in the way of abuse of women. Welcome to the modern world. Arundhakkani has this as the premise of its story. Arundha and Kani start their lives amongst such exploiters, with their mother who is a victim of exploitation. Set in the hinterlands of Wayanad, where humans were highly enthusiastic in clearing the forests and creating plantations, the tribals or the original inhabitants of the forests are at the receiving end.
Arundha and Kani grow up in this exploitation scene oblivious to its dangers. The good aren’t devoid among the exploiters. There is the landlord and his sister who try to help the village children including Arundha and Kani; and the teacher and his family who treat the two as their own.
The aim of Arundha’s life has been to find the next meal, for his sister Kani. He finds it first in the school, then at the teacher’s place for running errands. Not being very bright in studies, he settles down to doing odd jobs in and around the village. All fine, until Kani is attacked. Arundha after the attack is completely indifferent to the world, even to his wife.
This indifference is disturbing to everybody around him, and they don’t understand the reason behind. The obvious reason is Kani’s decision, taken when he wasn’t around. Kani also sees the torment which her brother undergoes, but she is neck deep in her decision and there is no going back; a decision which the society decides to uphold. As Arundha borders along the lines of mental stability, the society finds a reason to break his body and mind. That is the
moment when the children of the soil are themselves outlawed.
The beauty of the book lies in the language rather than the story. The story plot is on the life of two characters incumbent to the wilderness of Wayanad and how they are made foreigners in their own land. The story is straight forward and offers no surprises. However, it is the language which gives beauty to the book. All the dialogues are written in the local tribal language imparting the book an indigenous smell. There are parts of the book which are
complex and misty mainly reflecting the mental state of Arundha which can be a bit trying for the reader. For a beginner who is trying to read literature from these parts, this could be a fine beginning. But otherwise the book only demands an appreciation of the language.
The book indirectly tries to say that though we try to become a Roman in Rome, we shouldn’texpect the privileges of an indigenous Roman.
-Reviewed by Gautam Sasidharan