Scattered Fates: a novel on the second partition of India
By: Ram Garikipati
Length: 282 pages
Release date: Sep 27, 2013
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SCATTERED FATES is an alternate history novel, which unwraps in the backdrop of violent anti-Hindi agitations that rocked the State of Tamil Nadu and is narrated over two time frames – 1965 and 2005.
It is the story, in lucid conversational style, of Subbaiah, a university professor who gets drawn to the ideology of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, a political party that opposed the imposition of Hindi as the sole national language on 60 percent of the country’s population. He is entrusted with the task of rallying students to protest against the government’s decision to remove English as an official Indian language. The violence that follows spreads across South India, and the military is called in to restore order.
He shelters Moon, a young injured foreign exchange student from Corea. While recuperating in his house, Moon gets acquainted with the culture and traditions of his host, including the intricacies of the caste system, thanks to his inquisitive nature and friendly banter with Subbaiah’s neighbor and best friend Ganapathy, a Brahmin, who is initially against this movement led by the backward castes, but slowly changes his mind.
Moon is put on the first flight home as the civil war spirals out of control.
Starting as a minor party functionary, Subbaiah ends up playing a crucial role in the freedom movement that ultimately leads to the second partition of India into Dravida (South India) and Hindustan (North India). He is even tipped to be the first Finance Minister of his newly independent country, but loses out to his political rival.
A decade after independence, Subbaiah suddenly disappears without a trace. While everyone assumes that Hindustan spies abducted him, there are also doubts that he may have willingly defected to enemy territory.
Thirty years later, Subbaiah’s son Naga, a journalist in Dravida, Asia’s most prosperous capitalist economy, plays host to Maya, a beautiful online friend from Corea who comes visiting for her research. She has strong sympathies for the socialist ideology and is pursuing her PhD on countries divided by civil wars. While helping her get acquainted with his country’s cultural traditions, they encounter a retired university professor, Ganapathy, who denies knowing Subbaiah, reacting in a suspicious and evasive manner. They are convinced that he is hiding something, suspect his role in Subbaiah’s disappearance, and are determined to unravel the truth.
The duo finally manages to get the truth out. It was not something they were prepared to hear.