New Login   

A City in the Heart

Sara Rai

By Geetanjali Shree
Rajkamal Prakashan, New Delhi, 2006, pp. 244, Rs. 250.00


Geetanjali Shree breaks new ground with her novel Khali Jagah or The Empty Space. And not only in the context of her own writing that has over the years traversed much terrain, finding paths adventurous and often surprising. There is little, yet, in Hindi writing that has dealt with the shadow that looms over our modern lives, the fear of bombs and all that they bring in tow; the pain, the confusion, the fracturing of lived reality, the sense of the transience of our world itself that may be blown apart in one fatal moment by meaningless mad forces. This is a world in which violence has become banal, an everyday affair that completely throws off balance routines and patterns of existence. Indeed, no set patterns can be said to exist in the changed scenario. If there is anything that makes the modern world smaller and brings distant places closer to each other, it is this, the possibility of a terror attack. Is this one of the ironies of globalization? Because it is not as if the legion of terror is located in any one place. Like a cancer, it can spring up at will. This grim reaper culls with an absurd and unfailing sense of equality; no considerations of colour, creed, race or class seem to count for anything here. A terror attack could take place anywhere, at any time, in the safest, the remotest of areas and change human equations eternally, irredeemably.   Geetanjali’s new novel is about a bomb blast and its tragic aftermath. An eighteen year old son insists, despite parental resistance, on going to study at the famous university of a town where his father comes from. It is as much a quest for an education as it is for his roots. Barely has he reached there than a bomb blast happens in the safest and most unexpected place, the cafeteria of the university where this kind of event has no precedent. The debris of devastation goes flying in all directions, in a moment become eternity, with people stuck in that moment. Fire, ash, scraps of roasted flesh. Everything is smashed to pieces, people, fans, furniture and food; all tossed about “like an argument in the cosmos”. He is killed, naturally, and the cafeteria burnt to the ground, looking like “the black dream of an artist”. What follows is the total objectification of human life, ...

Table of Contents >>
Please or to Read Entire Article

Free Access Online 12 Back Issues
with 1 year's subscription
Archive (1976-2011)
under construction.