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History de-coded

SRAVASTI DATTA
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BOOK Sudipto Das’ debut novel combines ancient history, linguistic palaeontology, mathematics, music and a mystery story

If you are a history buff and a thriller aficionado, then The Ekkos Clan by Sudipto Das might just be the book for you. Ancient Indian history, linguistic palaeontology, mathematics and interesting insights on music are held together by a gripping mystery in Sudipto’s debut novel.

The Ekkos Clan (Niyogi Books, Rs. 350) tells the tale of how Kratu, a graduate student at Stanford, his best friend Tista and linguistic palaeontologist Afsar Fareedi, discover that the bedtime stories Kratu’s grandmother Kubha inherited from her ancestors, have hidden within them linguistic fossils and layers of history. This leads the trio on a quest to trace the origin of her stories and in the process they make some fascinating discoveries.

It took Sudipto intensive research to put the novel together. “I read up on ancient Indian history between 2008 and 2010.

By July 2010, I thought I would start writing because as Newton said the more you know, the more you realise how little you know. I thought I had to start writing,” says Sudipto who holds an engineering degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, and is also a member of a music band Kohal.

The first draft was written in six months. Sudipto then chose a sample of 25 readers, which included his friends, acquaintances and relatives, between the ages of 18 and 60, and gave them the first draft to read for feedback. He also sent in the manuscript to the Literary Consultancy, London. “They are known to be one of the best literary reviewers. They gave me detailed feedback.” The book was released recently at Oxford Bookstore.

The first two chapters of the novel, which also have an autobiographical element, are set against the 1946 Noakhali Riots. “I thought I had to write about the Partition of Bengal, as not much is written about it. I wanted to write about the survivors of the Noakhali riots. My father and his family came to Kolkata when the riots broke out. My father went onto become an engineer and provided well for his family. There were survivors who made a life for themselves despite being affected by the riots; I wanted to explore such stories in my novel.”

Sudipto developed an interest in music, history, mathematics and literature as a child. So, combining these aspects in The Ekkos Clan seemed only natural to him. “I knew the right thing about Indian culture. I have closely read Tagore’s works and had studied at the Ramakrishna Mission Institute. I have also always been fascinated by the poetry in the Rig Veda and the historicity of it. There is an inner meaning in the poems that are simple, yet profound. I wanted to demystify the Rig Veda in this book,” says Sudipto.

Speaking of the relevance of linguistic palaeontology in ancient Indian history, Sudipto says: “Historical proof is very limited in ancient Indian history, but linguistic palaeontology proof is plentiful.”

SRAVASTI DATTA

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