Book name: Ri – Homeland of Uncertainty Author: Paulami DuttaGupta This debut attempt by Paulami DuttaGupta brings to the fore the trials and tribulations beset on the beautiful and peaceful state of Meghalaya, India. The author has tried to draw the readers attention towards the many conflicts that the locals face owing to an unwanted situation thrust upon the local populace and how they have been dealing with it for almost a decade. In this short story, the author has been able to bring out the tensions and inner turmoil of the individuals, be it on this side of the law or the other, in a very simple and forthright manner.
The story runs quite naturally and though the plot is simple, there is no slack in the pace. While Kyndia showcases the difficult life of the men in khaki, Manbha represents the idealistic youth who is ready to sacrifice his everything in the name of Homeland. As the story tries to bring out all the aspects of a heaven disturbed from its tranquil and happy state to an unsavoury one that they are forced to live now. The introduction gives the basis of the story about what started as a tussle between the tribals and the outsiders-the settlers from other places, soon gave way to the rise of criminal elements who gradually exploited the demand of the masses for freedom into extortion bids. The corruption in the environment grew so intense that the once strong fraternal ties among the people started fraying. Doubt and suspicion blurred the aim for which the people had picked up arms that ultimately led them into killing their own which manifested in a very disillusioned youth. With this background in place, the story very deftly sews the different elements of the outcome of the simmering chaos like the ultras, the spies, the smugglers- all who have a misplaced sense of idealism but end up hurting their own people the most; the police, the media, the bureaucrats and the politicians who are grappling to bring the menace under control; and lastly the locals who have had enough of violence and uncertainty in life and want a peaceful one. For as in the rational voice of Emika-the scribe as she argues with Manbha’s idea of a Utopian land- ‘And how will your…this free nation survive, Manbha?’ Most of the story is delivered in a dialogue format; it is easy to follow each character’s thought process, confusion, and conflict of emotions. The only point I found a bit distracting was in the title itself where ‘Ri’ remains a word not very clear in its meaning. There are many tribes in Meghalaya. What language is it taken from? One can only assume that since it is in the title accompanying the word ‘Homeland’, it would have something to do with that. Since a film by the same name is already out, the book very efficiently conveys the message of preserving the homeland with best of intention and action by all parties who have a stake in it. All in all a nice, easy read to learn more about that small part in the east of India of which many do not much know about. Meet the Author
Born in Shillong, many moons ago, with schooling at Loreto Convent, and an English Honors from St. Edmunds College, Paulami Duttagupta started her career with All India Radio Shillong. She had written and also given her voice to a few shows there. Later she came down to Kolkata and got a post graduate degree in Comparative Literature from Jadavpur University. She had also taken up a fancy to learning Spanish, but today confesses that she has forgotten most of it. She has written for ‘The Times of India’ in the ‘Guwahati-Shillong plus Edition’ and also ‘The Shillong Times’. Television had always attracted her and was connected to the Bangla TV industry for about 6 years. She was associated with ETV- Bangla, Akash Bangla and Sony Aath in this period. Having left her day job in 2012, Paulami took up full time writing. Her first novel, “Pinjar” released in early 2012. Her second novel “Unplanned Destiny” released in 2014. She is also the screenplay writer of the national award winning Khasi film – “Ri Homeland of Uncertainty”. “Ri” has been adapted into a novel and was released on September 14,2014. She is currently working on her next project as movie script writer. Apart from writing full length novels, she has written several short stories and articles. She has also contributed to the “Minds@work Anthology” and the “Family Matters International Anthology” in 2013. Recently she has contributed to the “Learning and Creativity Anthology” , “Her Story Anthology”, and “Celebrating India – Love across Borders Anthology”. When she is not writing or watching movies, Paulami is either reading biographies or classic pieces of literature. Cricket, food, cinema, books and music are an integral part of her life. You can stalk PaulamiDuttagupta @ A Giveaway The Prize http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/35014b094/