Thursday, November 3, 2016

'Bara' by U R Ananthmurthy

I am finally picking up a work of one of the doyens of Indian(south) literature, U R Ananthmurthy. Picked up,almost instinctively, from Bahrisons in Delhi, I didn't intend to read any of his works this soon as I wanted to slowly build up my way to reach to his other major works, but nevertheless did. The book has touched many themes, including right wing activism, environmentalism, cow protection and the practice of political patronage.

Bara, means drought. 

Its a story of an IAS officer, who chose to be one because of his idealism to serve the underprivileged, chose a rural posting with open arms, for the challenge of living among the destitute. His idealism is reflected in the fact that he sends his son to a local government school instead of a boarding. 
With the central character of Satisha, the story builds around a drought affected town which is under severe water crises. Also showcased is the irony, that people rather than fighting the system, instead end up quarreling among each other, which towards the end turns communal. How the local politician would leave no stone unturned in practicing corruption, hoarding, nepotism and hooliganism has been briefly talked about as well. It is written in the 70s, with emergency as a backdrop. However, the story doesn't stay within the confines of the that era. Its almost equally valid for the present times. 

Thanks to Chandan Gowda for translating an important work for non-Kannada readers and writing an excellent afterword, which gave new dimensions to the various themes which the book owing to its fictional nature had limitations to be build into any serious analysis or arguments within the framework of a novel. 

With having picked up a work of UR, I can now safely build up to Samkara and Bharathipura

Notable excerpts, 

"The drought in the region could be merely news for someone relaxing inside an office with a ceiling fan."
"Its only because I'm not in the line that I'm able to see all the rows." 
"A student of history, she appreciated relics."
"He was content that his son had a stake in the process of traditional society becoming modern."
"Let me be honest with you. Are your a bureaucrat or a revolutionary? You delude yourself that you can be both." 

Rating: 7/10

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