Tag Archives: Rupi Baskey

Rupi Baskey and the mysterious nature of evil 

Anu Kumar reviews The Mysterious Ailment of Rupi Baskey: A Novel by Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar (Aleph Book Company, 2013, India;  pp 210) 

Rupi-BaskeyJharkhand is one of India’s newest states created in 2000 after a long political struggle. It’s formation was in effect a recognition of the need for an adivasi homeland but when  the state of Jharkhand was created, landlocked between five states, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to the north and east, West Bengal to its southeast, Odisha and Chhattisgarh bordering it in the southwest and west, it was immensely smaller than the greater Jharkhand  originally envisaged by adivasi groups. The latter had desired not merely some measure of autonomy but their own control over resources. The region is immensely rich in,  ‘jal, jangal and jam in’, resources which to this day are controlled and even owned by outsiders.

But this is in no way a political novel. Political events when mentioned make a sketchy appearance of sorts, so we know the timeline the novel essentially follows. Sowvendra Shekhar’s novel is  centred mainly around the village called Kadamdihi, located at the southern end of Jharkhand.  There is also the town of Nitra,  reachable from the only railway station from Kadamdihi, Chakuliya. Rupi Baskey’s story is a universal one of a family’s slow descent into decline, but it is also a unique narrative in the way the strange forces of good and evil, development and timelessness play out in the lives of Rupi Baskey and her family.

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Review: Hansda Sowendra Shekhar’s The Mysterious Ailment of Rupi Baskey

Rupi-BaskeyHansda Sowendra Shekhar’s debut novel The Mysterious Ailment of Rupi Baskey is a loving and careful recounting of the Santhal way of life. Spanning several decades and four generations in the lives of the Hansda clan in the East Singhbhum district of Jhar­khand, the novel centres on the theme of dahni-bidya, or witchcraft, and traces the lives of the increasingly dysfunctional des­cendants of Somai-haram, the majhi of Kadamdihi village. It is remarkable that the author, a doctor working for the Jharkhand government, has not let his training interfere with or add scepticism to this story about the paranormal. Read more