“Poverty is the worst form of violence.” -Mahatma Gandhi
Author C. Radhakrishnan’s novelette ‘Agni’ is a finely crafted introspection into the emotion of love and its myriad forms. The source of many different emotions found in men can often be traced back to this single emotion. And it’s often the tipping point that makes our mind oscillate between the different levels of sanity. The good and the bad that comes out of it have always stupefied humanity and the following story is a fine example of the human mind’s predicament when engulfed in an all consuming fire, the Agni (fire) of love.
People born and brought up in the same milieu as the characters in the book will fully appreciate the familiarity and sense of belonging the author’s writing conjures up in one’s mind. And for the rest of the world perhaps unfamiliar with such native scenes this small book will be a series of awakening to an exotic world full of exotic possibilities. And you needn’t understand or have prior knowledge of local customs beforehand to enjoy it, because the scintillating wordplay and vivid imagery will calm your mind and comfort your heart as any soothing lullaby would.
While describing the social and cultural mood of the place a bit of satire creeps into the author’s tone but it’s all good and you can chuckle at such irrelevance because most of it stands true to the place and the time it’s set in. But perhaps a discomforting thought for readers would be that in many places the government machinery still moves at that same lethargic pace as it did almost 50 years ago.
Violence and cruelty form a part of everyday life for the inhabitants of the small village and the protagonist Moosa is their chief mascot. Although it’s claimed that such violence is not part of their local traditions, the people simply don’t know any better and perhaps it’s merely a reflection of the times they lived in where the need for human survival prioritized over feelings of empathy. And nowhere is it more obvious than on various animals that have to bear the brunt of the human animal’s flippant attitude towards them, alternating between extreme love and hate.
Moosa is a terror of a man but there is a lot of good in him and inwardly he tries to be a just man but he often succumbs to the expectation of his own conceptualized image. He’s a person whose world view is limited by his upbringing and experience and also by his strong bond and love towards his only daughter. Amina, Sulaiman, Mulla, the assistant boy, Kumbhan and a few others are a wonderful group of characters soaked in the local milieu that bring to the forefront delectable flavors of rural customs and life in the interiors.
Paperback: 136 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (29 September 2013)