- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Aleph Book Company (1 January 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9382277323
- ISBN-13: 978-9382277323
- Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.3 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 19 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #10,941 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Mysterious Ailment of Rupi Baskey Paperback – 1 Jan 2014
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It is ironical that the author, a physician, writes so convincingly about psychosomatic diseases and witchcraft. I would like to learn of his experiences as a medical officer and how he balances the dogmatic medical science with the esoteric spirituality of adivasis.
The prose is lyrical in the description of tribal Santhal life:
“Her body isn’t the sturdy banyan of old, it is a diseased eucalyptus: pale and covered with sickly patches.”
“And wherever one looked, there were red crosses. There was one on each side of the name of the doctor. Just above the front door which opened into the homoeopath’s chamber was a smaller board which had the same text printed in Roman and Devanagari. Red crosses had been painted on the frame above the door like the auspicious swastika; there were crosses on the pillars which supported the upper storey. The homoeopath’s motorcycle parked outside had red crosses painted on the both the back and front license plates. It was difficult to miss that Dr Mahato was, indeed, a man of medicine.”
There are vivid descriptions of traditional Adivasi life, rituals. Moreover, there are succinct inclusions about Santhal political history and geography about Jharkhand. A simple map gives a spatial bearing to the reader.
My only grouse is the excessive use of the Santhali dialect – there should have been a glossary to explain the terms and provide a cultural subtext.
Ailments has the innocence of the primordial life, the raw passion of life lived in arcadial beginnings of a far-away Eden. It lures the English reader in to a world he is unaware of. The sprawling saga of the of Khorda haram family is a far cry from the innocuous happenings in Indian middle class living rooms where most Indian English novels are set.
Both in Ailments and in his short story collection The Advasis Will Not Dance,(also published by Ravi Singh in his new inprint Speaking Tiger) the pastoral world often seems unreal to us, where love is free, uninhibited by morality or caution ,constructed morality just a distant notion, damnation and redemption expected and endured. In Ailments women covort naked in moonlit nights, apparitions appear at appropriate times, vodoo doctors or ojhas whose main weapon is the jackfruit tree leaf mumble incoherently and young wanton girls like Putki, admire the male organ while the moonlight reflects off their ebony skins even as young boys watch from top of the tree . Innocence and naiveté accompanies part of the narrative,some characters are half-made and dumped but all that are pardonable in this novel through which the poignant Rupi’s pain and sorrow runs like a unifying thread.
The novel contains amazing details about the society including witchcraft, gods, marriage rituals etc.
Spanning through four generations it also narrates beautifully how the fast changing outer world affects their life.