Monideepa Sahu, fiction editor of Kitaab, interviews Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar, the author of The Mysterious Ailment of Rupi Baskey (Aleph) 

HansaHansda Sowvendra Shekhar is a medical officer with the government of Jharkhand, India. When he is not busy treating patients, he reads, and writes. His stories and articles have been published in The Statesman, is stories H Indian Literature, The Times of India, The Four Quarters Magazine and elsewhere. His short fiction is included in the anthology, Alchemy: The Tranquebar Book of Erotic Stories II.

His novel, The Mysterious Ailment of Rupi Baskey (Aleph) takes us into the little-known and fascinating world of the Santhal tribals of eastern India. The Santhals live in small villages surrounded by forests, and follow their own lore and rituals. Eating, drinking and merrymaking, rituals and festivities, are an integral part of the social life of these poor, uncomplicated and lively people. The author, who has first-hand knowledge of this culture, brings this world to vivid life.

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.