Ri – Homeland of Uncertainty is a novel by Paulami DuttaGupta. Published by Fablery Publication in 2014 the book is based on a film with the same name directed by Pradip Kurbah and the screenplay for the film was written by the author.
Ri – Homeland of Uncertainty is set in the insurgency infected Meghalaya. The novel is fast paced and rapidly moves between Shillong, Bangladesh and the borders of India and Bangladesh. We come across a lot of novels which deal with issues of terrorism and insurgency but rarely is there a narrative which shows both sides of the coin with such effectiveness and derives a meaningful conclusion.
Ri – Homeland of Uncertainty has, what one may call, unity of action and time. The main event of the novel takes place in a span of twenty four hours and so does the main debate. The novel lays bare some disturbing truths about not just Meghalaya but all of North East India. The separatist tendencies and their effect on innocent lives are portrayed beautifully and evoke strong emotions in the reader.
The novel is a thrilling account of plans of militant attack on Independence Day and police’s attempt to thwart this plan. SP Kyndiah, the protagonist, is a young police officer who has fought tooth and nail to drive back the insurgents and bring peace and accord in the state. Kyndiah’s dedication to restore peace and tranquillity to Meghalaya goes beyond words and is a positive portrayal of Indian police which is usually shown as unsympathetic and brutal towards the civilians and the criminals alike.
Another protagonist in the novel is Manbha, a Meghalayan youth, with a dream to have a free state. He is constantly perturbed about the state of Meghalaya and similar to Kyndiah wishes to restore the former glory of his motherland, albeit their methods are different.
In simplistic terms the novel could be called a story of misguided youth but it is much more than that. In its compact structure the novel, very eloquently, puts forth the problems which ail North East states face. It is not just the story of misguided youth and state’s action to restore peace but it’s the story of a common dream.
In the conversation between Manbha and Emika the pain of people from North East is laid bare for the world to read. Emika and Manbha represent the two arguments of same debate – while Manbha represent that group which feels alienated from the country India, Emika represents the group which believes that violence is not the answer.
The novel deals with a particular attempt at terror and reaches a promising conclusion but also leaves a trailing question if this is the end.
Pick the book for an engrossing and thought provoking experience. The book forces you to think and reconsider many ideas and perceptions which are associated with the North East states of India.
I must thank author Paulami DuttaGupta for providing me with a free review copy of the novel in exchange for an unbiased review through Morsels & Juices.