Innocence in black and white | Daily News


Innocence in black and white

Among the English- fluent academics in the North at present, S. Pathmanathan (Sopa), former Principal of Palali Teacher Training College, is well known in the South Literary circles in English as well, primarily of his scholarship in Tamil and English. He is a bilingual poet and author of many books. He has attended several times the SAARC conferences in India. However, the focus is not on him here, but on an English novel written by Siva. Ahrooran from the North. Sopa has edited the novel and given the plot of the novel in the back cover.

Instead of repeating the plot, for authenticity, I give below verbatim how he describes Siva. Ahrooran’s maiden novel in English called “The Innocent Victims”.

“The protagonist Suganya is a war-widow who has a ten-year-old daughter. Fortunately, she is a working woman. That gives her the stamina and fortitude to withstand the onslaught made by the Society at different stages of her life.

The Society is represented the many characters who crisscross her life.

Satkunam, an elderly, influential and respectable man whose sinister design is barred by and by dominates the first part of the novel.

Sanjayan, the bold, idealist who stands by Suganya, gives her the strength to face a hostile conservative society. Selfless, simple and compassionate, he is the opposite of Satkunam.

Sanjyan’s father Murugesu is a liberal, who is ahead of his times.

Dananjayan, elder brother is opposed to his bachelor brother marrying a widow.

It calls for a lot of cajoling on the part of his wife Rajini to make him around.

The female characters of the novel re flexible and rounded. Even Suganya’s mother-in-law is very supportive. She persuades Suganya to remarry and convinces Ahrani to accept it. Vasanthi, Suganya’ office mate is a tower of strength for her. She has apprehensions about the man who is to marry her mother.

She shies away from him at the start. But when her mother leaves her for two days in Sanjayan’s charge- and she experiences first hand his love and concern for her- she becomes a transformed girl.”

Unwise years

In writing the novel in English, the writer has brought the existence of many widows in Tamil-speaking areas because of the unwise and horrible nearly three-decade war staged mainly in those areas for the sympathetic action of the humane members of the majority of people in the South. Although they were aware of the problems faced by the masses, particularly among lower and middle-class people, they wouldn’t know the details as described in realistic fiction written by the writers of the North and East, because the writing had only been in Tamil. Even the politicians in that part of the world speak their problems only in that language as almost all Sinhala politicians speak only in their mother tongue.

As a fiction based on actuality, I should say, it is an interesting, easily readable attempt to describe the social and interpersonal relationship in a family that could arise and live their lives fresh from the wreckage in their environ setup.

Superiority consciousness

Among the many social problems of the Yaalpaanam upper middle class and other classes of people had been facing was the problem of Caste and the Class promulgated by Race and superiority consciousness. Social taboos like widows getting married, inter-racial marriages, incest and the like. Through novels, short stories, plays and poetry, we can have a slight insight into the situation.

Please read this 276 page novel priced at Rs 750 published elegantly by Jeevanathy Publishers at Kalaiaham, Alvai, in Yaalpaanam. Contact number: 077 599 1949.

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