‘Greetings from a Violent Hometown’ is a short piece seen in the eyes of a young Indian girl, whose homeland is scattered into smithereens, so much she wants her father to scoop the family to America. The voice is a personal narrative in present continuous tense, dotted with see through words that go all the way to heaven and back in keeping the piece done and dusted. While being culturally alive.
Because of the too many things that have happened in the past, yet continue to happen. The narrator is grieved at the prospect of not having any birthday celebration, so far these things lingered. She, before things were caught up in insurgency, is able to trace the start; when owls swarm around with hoots, and with an extra hoot-the hoot of death, foretold the future, now present, and still unfolding.
The voice whose name the gods know has a brother, Dhan so called. He doesn’t quite like the idea of school on account of peers that have stopped too, even with the expectation laden with having a headmaster father. Despite the many emphasis reposed on education as a no-toy-with, it was in the least, a brighter hope for the future. Consequent upon the recent happenings, the fear of losing those she loves underlines her. This bigger fear is prompted more by the smaller fears of “…soldiers rummaging homes…many taken away as a few never return.” And overwhelming fear when “…bodies first began washing down the river,” and then “the boys started disappearing from their homes in the night…” that choke her. Because of Dhan who falls in the category of boyhood and her father who is easily under suspicion due to unplanned visits from the army-who sought for some link to the insurgents, she barely shrugs off taunts of them that tease her.
Now these bad omens were rampart, identifying with families. She plunges with her mother into a constant unsteady emotion, for Dhan, and the headmaster father and husband. With Independence almost approached, there is a stifling in the usual happy celebrations that characterise it; it was “…no longer filled with gleeful children releasing balloons into the sky…no sweets distributed, no songs sung. No games.” The recalcitrant father doesn’t give up on his school, if bad had come to worse, it was Independence. Since morning, he had travelled five miles to school with no security to mark Independence with some routine. Her mother is uneasy. She runs a trite of imaginations.
Author: Ritu Monjori Kalita Deka lives in Pune, Maharashtra.
It is India’s ninth most populous city. Greetings from a
Violent Hometown is her first work of fiction published
in an International Journal.
(credit: commonwealth writers, addastories)