Many contemporary Tamil writers and intellectuals are seriously concerned about the Srilankan Tamil imbroglio and many of them are open defenders of Tamil Eelam. Dr. Ku.Ve. Balasubramanian of Thanjavur is one such ardent supporter and he tries to project the trials and tribulations of not just the Tamil Eelam fighters but vociferously lambasts the social and political evils in India and the world over.
The novella starts modestly in a deserted and parched Tamil Nadu village but travels through the country and even goes up to New York. It is difficult to summarise the novel since it has several characters, events with too many twists and turns.
An honest landlord, a good-natured orphan, a scheming village strongman, a refugee from Srilanka and his beautiful daughter, a wayward young man, an opportunist actress and several other supporting characters swim through the quick changing events.
Story telling is undoubtedly an art; juxtaposing too many incidents and characters may cloud the focus of the narrative. That happens here.
Annamalai, Poovayi and Kotri are the central players with a heart of gold and the strength of diamond. The author says in his preface that his novel should prick the heart and senses of the readers like ‘Nerunji’, (Land Caltrops/ Puncture Vine) a common thorny plant. He succeeds partially in achieving this objective.
On the positive side, each chapter opens with a ‘Nattuppura Paattu’ (Folk Song) which shows the simplicity of the language at the same time the lyrical [beauty] and profundity of such verses. On the flip side the sections in the chapters are not differentiated with separation or bold starting letters. That would have avoided a slight confusion creeping up as scenarios seem to jump from one to another abruptly.
‘Nerunji’ can attract a typical Tamil movie maker as it almost carries all the elements needed for a typical screenplay with an added popular sentiment of ‘Tamil Eelam’ of the Tamils.
Dr. Ku Ve Balasubramanian
Thanjavur, Anuradha Publications, Chennai. pp. 159, Rs. 75