Manal Novel - Jeyapirakasam deftly blends many folktales, rituals, folk beliefs with the modern day political happenings

Tamil Nadu (a southern State in India) in the recent times witnessed the atrocities of 'sand mafia.' The newspapers were filled with the atrocities done by the villainous group. Whoever was against the evil of the exploitation of the river sand was done away with in heinous manners (Many were run over by the trucks).

The river sand is a gold mine for the profit seeking politicians. The mining of river sand for the local use (construction in that particular region) is acceptable. But when it is mined for commercial purposes, that is where the danger lies. The river bed that takes thousand years to form is scratched to nothing in minimum of 10 years. When a river bed is completely robbed of the sand, it leads to the death of a river and that in turn results in killing the livelihoods dependent on the river. The drinking water of the area gets dried up or the water becomes not potable. It kills the villages and the people in the villages.

This has been happening in Tamil Nadu. The sad fact is that it happens with Government approval. The villages around such riverbeds where sand mining was allowed seeing the dangers protested. The protests of the insignificant villages did not hinder the politicians. They had means and ways to exploit the government and the laws. They manipulated some individuals from the village for their selfish gains. Some gained economically assisting the mafia. Some protested and paid with their lives.

One of such rivers that was killed systematically by the sand mafia is Vaippaaru (a river that originated near Sattur and ends in Vaippaar sea). The villages in and around the flow of the river was once known for agriculture, specially known for the vegetables. After the sand mining of the river was permitted, the villages all lost the river, the river water, and consequently the profession (agriculture). They were reduced to mill workers in near by towns (Ettayapuram, Kovil Patti). The villages protested and it was a difficult fight against the powerful mafia which had the whole government in its pocket. These real life events are narrated in the novel form.

The novel excellently uses the regional dialect (Karisal Kaattu Tamil). B.Jeyapiraksam deftly blends many folktales, rituals, folk beliefs with the modern day political happenings and the explotation done to the river and the surrounding villages. A person not used to the regional dialect might find reading a little tough. But if he/she holds on to it, the reward will be good.

- Dhanaraj Rajan


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