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Revolutionary fervour

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R. KRITHIKA

Neela wants to do her bit for the war. Will she succeed?

Set during India's freedom struggle, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's Victory Song is a simple tale of young Neela's search for her father in revolutionary Bengal. Neela and her family live in Shona Gram but the revolutionary fervour set off by Subhas Chandra Bose reaches the villages too. An encounter with the revolutionaries during his elder daughter's wedding sees Hari Charan, Neela's father, set off to Kolkata to join them. Neela, left behind, does her bit by hiding a wounded revolutionary, Samar, from the police. Her mother, already irritated at her daughter's tomboy behaviour, decides to fix Neela's wedding despite the father's absence. Neela now decides to run away to Kolkata and find her father. Whether she succeeds and returns to Shona Gram forms the rest of the tale.Most stories about this period tend to be preachy and focus on sacrifice and loss. But Divakaruni's language is racy and the pace does not flag. There is an attempt to look at the other side too. In Kolkata, Neela takes the help of Samar's cousin, Bimala, whose father is said to be a ruthless judge. But Neela sees that he is capable of kindness as well. All in all, it's a good read. Victory Song; Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Puffin, Rs. 150

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